You’re Batman? So What.

Pretend you are Batman for a minute. Maybe an unemployed Batman. I know, Batman is very entrepreneurial and makes his own success, but hang with me for a minute. You’re lounging around the Batcave one day, thinking about how you are going to pay the fat mortgage on this hole in the ground, and think about getting a paycheck. Being a savvy masked superhero, you hit the job boards and search to see what is available in Gotham City.

It’s your lucky day, because the city is advertising for a superhero just like you to take a bite out of crime. You know you have the talent and you are the perfect person for the job, so you send out your resume and your standard cover letter and wait for a call. Or an email. Or maybe even that bat-shaped spotlight. But none of it happens. Why not?

Could it be that you haven’t sold yourself in your cover letter? Did you fail to connect the dots for the HR person in city hall who sent your resume to the “thanks but no thanks” folder?

The job posting said that the successful candidate would have the ability to significantly reduce violent crime in the city, especially crime perpetrated by criminals with colorful costumes and weird MO’s. Did you remember to tell the hiring people that you have created an ingenious strategy to capture and successfully prosecute these bad guys, and that you look forward to sharing your skill with the good people of Gotham? Did you mention that you can get it done without the Gotham police officers being in harm’s way? Did you sell yourself?

Enough of the Batman story for now. When you are presenting yourself for opportunities in your current company, for a new job, or when discussing your performance with your boss, are you discussing the benefits that you bring – or will bring – to the organization? If not, you are failing to sell yourself by showing the buyer – your boss or potential employer – a compelling reason to put you on the team. You can remove the pain. The benefit you bring will be much greater than the paycheck you receive.

Nobody will care about what you do unless you can show how you will do it for the organization and how you are worth the investment. Gotham won’t hire Batman unless Batman can persuasively sell the idea that he will be locking up the Joker. Quickly.

3x5x30

If you have ever been in sales, you have heard the term “elevator speech.” Some call it the elevator pitch. The idea is that you should have a speech ready at all times that you can use to introduce yourself to others. I was a member of a networking group that talked about this a lot. We didn’t just talk about it, though. We talked, we wrote, we critiqued, we role-played and we laughed at each other’s speeches. Some were great, while others…had opportunities for improvement.

I was reminded of this twice over the last week when I talked with new and prospective clients. I asked them about themselves, and it was obvious that one of them had never been coached on this concept. Here’s why it is important.

You never know when you are going to meet new people. You could be introduced by a colleague or friend. You could get stuck next to a Chatty Cathy on a plane. You never know when you will have to tell someone about yourself. Oddly, you’ll probably never do this on an elevator though, so I don’t really understand how it got called an elevator speech. Do you talk to strangers on the elevator? Don’t you just stand there and stare at the numbers? But I digress…

So, here is an idea. Take some time to write your speech. Now here’s the meaning of this post’s title: try writing it on a 3”x5” card, and be able to say it in less than 30 seconds. Make it concise, clear and interesting enough to get the listener to want to know more. Practice it on your cat. Bore your children. Do what you have to, but be able to tell someone about yourself well. If you can’t, who can?

Are You Part of the Big Brain?

On what topic are you an expert? Maybe you spend hours each week working in a discipline that has allowed you to develop expert level knowledge in some area. Maybe you have a passion outside of work that others would find valuable. If you haven’t explored Quora, you are missing an opportunity to learn, share and bolster your personal brand.

Inc. Magazine offered a useful tips article for Quora users. Visit Quora, read the article and understand what the site is all about. Then consider this.

If you have a skill that you could share to benefit others, consider engaging in this forum. Pick a topic and search for some of the people who are also involved in the conversations. You will find thought leaders on every topic freely sharing their knowledge, asking questions and engaging in dialogue. If you want to know what the leaders in your field or industry are discussing, this is a great place to visit.

Think about how you can burnish your own personal brand on the site. I have been visiting and posting to help people with questions concerning resumes, cover letters and other career marketing issues. What do you know a lot about that you can share?

File this pointer under “New Things I Have Learned This Week.” Take a few minutes, see if the site and the conversations resonate with you, and decide if this can help you develop your professional brand and online reputation. If so, jump into the conversation, have some fun and show us how smart you are.