I had the pleasure of attending a Dale Carnegie Training course this week – “Selling Your Value and Building Your Personal Brand.” (Thank you, National Association of Asian American Professionals – Philadelphia, for organizing it!)
It was a very informative and engaging session. Our trainer, Robert Johnston, did a fantastic job facilitating the workshop; it was funny and educational! I’d like to share with you three things that will help you in all networking events: become a better conversationalist through conversation stack and sell your value through a personal branding statement.
1. Become genuinely interested in others – you’re not interesting until you’re interested.
It was said Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is the world’s #3 bestselling book after the Bible and dictionaries. The title of the book tells a whole story by itself: you have to establish friendly connections with people before you can influence them. Why? We can only influence with permission. To make people find you interesting in networking events, you have to first show you’re interested in them. The conversation stack below will help you to do just that.
2. Conversation stack.
We human remember things when we associate them with images. A conversation stack associates conversation topics with a stack of images – it allows you to strike effective conversations with strangers while avoiding awkward silence.
The stack below works best in networking events with a focus on work/business.
- Standing on the grass, you find a HUGE brass name plate with that person’s name.
- Get his/her name. (To better remember names: check out this article)
- Erupted out of the name plate is a dirty, gray factory.
- Ask where they work.
- The factory has three smoke stacks with smoke coming out of them; the middle one is made of a gigantic Mountain Dew;
- Ask what do they do.
- Coming out of the Mountain Dew bottle is a Space Shuttle Discovery.
- Discover/find out more about their work: how they got started, industry trends, business challenges, etc.
- A black stretch limousine is driving out of the space shuttle.
- “What brought you to this event?” –> know their motivations of coming here, challenges they try to overcome, etc.
- When you opened the door of the car, you see a TV. A 30-second commercial is being aired.
- Briefly introduce yourself –> a good opportunity to use your personal branding statement below.
- Right after the commercial, a Mickey Mouse with big ears appears; his mouth is sealed by duct tapes.
- Listen with big ears and shut the mouth.
- A traffic light suddenly pops out of Mickey Mouse’s head, flashing red, yellow, or green depending on the other person’s response to your self-intro:
- Red light – move on: if the other person’s response is negative, it’s perfectly okay to move on to someone else. Say to them, “It was so nice meeting you.” (5 ways to exit a conversation gracefully)
- Yellow light – question: probe with more questions, if they appear to be interested.
- Green light – Ding! Extend your business card and potentially call for action (chat future over coffee, for example.)
3. Personal Branding Statement
An effective personal branding statement “takes our individual skills and strengths, combines them with our interests, and identifies our unique promise of value to our clients, employees, colleagues, and other important contacts.”
Different occasions and audience would require different statements. Before developing your personal branding statement, ask yourself:
- Qualities and characteristics that have lead to my success;
- Qualities that my colleagues and clients appreciate about me;
- Example of experience that demonstrate my unique skill.
To develop your personal branding statement, the following are three important elements:
- Things that you’re passionate about. Avoid using job titles; focus on the values you bring to others.
- For example, instead of saying “I’m an Actuarial Senior Analyst at Cigna.” (not memorable; not informative; lacks creativity.) Say “I’m passionate about using numbers to solve business problems. I work at Cigna as an actuary; I use my analytical skills to develop and price insurance products, so that our clients can save money and sleep better at night.”
- What other people (colleagues/clients) say about me.
- An anecdote that exemplifies your qualities/skills.
For example, a personal branding statement I would use in non-profit events or when talking to someone who are interested in professional development/non-profit work:
“I also love non-profits! I’m very passionate about helping others to develop professionally and become the best versions of themselves. I’m responsible for Cigna’s Asian/South Asian CRG – Colleague Resource Group in PA. My officers and members say I’m motivating when rallying people around a common cause, courageous when initiating changes, and hard-working when making things happen. Very recently, I helped the CRG to re-organize the leadership structure, assembled a local team of four officers, and created a series of well-received new programs. We quickly became the fastest growing CRG in Cigna.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Some people think the conversation stack is very mechanical and lacks creativity. What do you think?
- Will you try it next time you go to a networking event? What is your personal branding statement? Do you see yourself using a statement similar to above when talking to someone in person?