If you are like me, you have read all of NetworkIN’s blogs on great tips for networking events. You know how to introduce yourself and have some great conversation starters ready to go! However, you struggle with the commonly asked question “tell me a little about yourself”. While I could tell someone multiple things about myself, I fear of coming across as arrogant or boastful, and am wary about rambling too much about insignificant things. How can you sell yourself to a potential employer as a professional and unique individual? By knowing your personal brand. Your personal brand connects your values and personality through tone of voice and storytelling. “If you are not a brand, you are not a commodity”-Phillip Kotler, Professor at Kellogg School of Management. Therefore, the first step in establishing a brand is to characterize your brand.
First, you must know your values. What drives you? What wakes you up in the morning? What do you love and hate about your current position? How are you unique? Why are you interested in this position? How is the way you work different than others? You get the idea. This lets a potential employer know what matters most to you – and lets them know if this aligns with their mission.
Tone of Voice
Tone of voice is something I’m sure all of you have heard of, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”. Have you ever found yourself in a predicament simply because of the way you worded a sentence? Carrying the same tone of voice throughout your conversations at networking events can help make a great first impression. Consistently conveying the same tone of voice can help establish some familiarity and therefore trust. Something familiar requires little effort to process mentally, therefore, people feel more comfortable around you. Let’s take a look at examples, all asking for the same question in different ways.
- You wouldn’t happen to have a pen I could borrow, would you?
- Do you have a pen I could borrow?
- Pass me that pen.
Which sounds more respectful? Statement number one.
Finally, knowing how to express your personality through vocabulary is “how you say it”. Depending on the occasion and setting, you can use the level of formality to help adjust and navigate the appropriate language required during an occasion. If formal, professionalism is the main focus, while giving away hints of your personality. If informal, professionalism still plays a role, but expressing your personality could help keep a conversation going strong. Two grammar techniques to help you express your personality in each situation are colloquialisms and idiosyncrasies. Colloquialisms are how to properly use slang terms to sound more relatable! While not appropriate for writing, they can help in a conversation. For example, while describing your research you could say “by chance we found this led to this”, however, when discussing this result in a conversation, you can say “as luck would have it, we found this result”. Idiosyncrasies are your own unique characteristics or quirks. These could be your favorite expressions, inflection, pace, humor, etc. All of which help your personality come to life.
Tying this all together, a great way to express your values using tone of voice and personality is through storytelling. Storytelling provides a platform to present information that resonates with the audience. A good story must be about a specific person, draw out a basic human emotion, feature a struggle requiring the character to change or learn something, and should be very detailed! Details including the scenery, smells, emotions, sounds, etc. When applied to your research or career, storytelling can help you use personal and professional details to describe yourself and your goals in an impactful, concise way. Having a clear story structure, while including all of the tips mentioned above will help you leave memorable impressions at your next networking event.
- Cummings, Harriet. “Finding your brands voice”. Distilled. https://www.distilled.net/tone-of-voice/
- Forbes Communication Council. “10 networking tips to help you make a great first impression at an event”. Forbes. April 23, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/04/23/10-networking-tips-to-help-you-make-a-great-first-impression-at-an-event/#5d701a73301b
- Quast, Lisa. “Personal Branding 101”. Forbes. April 22, 2013. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/04/22/personal-branding-101/#29b67d3a297c
- Baron, Nancy. “Escape the Ivory Tower”. Island Press. August 13, 2010.