When I ask clients to name their strengths, they often point to broad qualities or skill sets, such as, leadership, communication skills, and flexibility. Too often that’s where they stop. The trick to good personal branding, networking, interviewing, and resume writing is to take this kind of strength and project it to the different audiences you interact with. For example, a senior sales professional and an office manager both need good communication skills, but they are different. Sales representatives present, negotiate, and train to sell. Office managers negotiate to buy products and train employees in job skills. They might also lead meetings. Whenever you are promoting yourself as a professional, think about the person or group you are addressing. What do they need to know about you? What is their biggest concern? Give them what they need to know, and they will give you the kind of respect that opens doors.
I was working on a project on Saturday that was especially frustrating. A client needed a targeted cover letter. He did a great job of describing why he was a perfect for a new job at a company where he already worked. I've written this kind of letter before and thought it would be a breeze. So I started writing and got stuck. I was putting words on a page (screen), but they didn't say what I wanted. I'd stop and start again. After half an hour of getting nowhere, I closed the file, shut down the computer, and went home.
The next day I went to work, which I don't like to do on Sunday unless I have to. This time the words rolled and the editing was fast. I hit all the points my client wanted to make, and the letter sounded good. After receiving it, he wrote back that no edits were needed. Sometimes, the best way to deal with writer's block is to just walk away. Delete what you've written and start over. It's hard to throw it all out, but I've found that is often the best way to get around a problem. Start over. Just make sure you're giving yourself enough time to meet your deadline.
One of my favorite blogs Big Think recently featured one of my favorite writers, Daniel Pink, who was talking about how to influence others by asking the right kind of questions. As he did in his book Drive, Pink explores how we can motivate others by appealing to their interests instead to arguing for what is right (what we want). In this video, he models how to ask questions and follow up in a way that encourages self-motivated actions. This is a very interesting model for influencing others, including prospective employers, current bosses, and networking partners. Try to put Pink’s advice into practice the next time you have to influence someone who is reluctant to do what you want.