I got off the phone yesterday with my younger brother who is an emerging filmmaker. He has been working on a feature length documentary for the past two-years that follows the art of skateboarding. The film is extremely conceptual, rich, and takes a fresh point of view on skateboarding.
My brother has poured his soul and a lot of money into the making of his film. In fact, last year he set up a Kickstarter campaign, and successfully raised $10k in funds. He has traveled the world to interview major figures in the skateboarding world and has spent hundreds of hours editing his film. You see, while my brother has won national awards, worked with major brands, and had huge successes on Vimeo and Youtubehis modesty about his own skills has kept him from reaching the next level.
I’m confident that my brother and other talented people like him can succeed in their cutthroat industries with a few helpful tips. Here are 5 essential ways to sell yourself in order to reach the next level:
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Trying to reach the next level in your career or business may leave you feeling inadequate. Those feelings can produce a self-deprecating mentality and hedge against future success. Nelson Mandela articulately said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Putting your best foot forward means:
- Articulating your story and message
- Speaking professionally (leaving out jargon and slang)
- Having a vision of your goals and where you want to be
- Showing why you are the “one”
Don’t be afraid to display yourself in the best possible light because if you don’t, who will?
Tell Your Story
We all have stories about our lives and careers. Your personal story is one of your greatest assets for selling yourself. The stories you tell about yourself can have powerful impacts on clients, recruiters, and partners. Take the story of Steve Jobs, for example. Jobs created Apple, got fired, came back and absolutely demolished his competition. His story has been turned into books, movies, and helped inspire thousands (if not millions) around the world.
Your story can be the same. Here’s what to consider when telling your story:
1. Your life is a story that you get to write. It’s an easy excuse to pass off the responsibility of our lives to some grand universe who’s dictating what happens. That simply isn’t the truth. Yes, there are external forces and variables that affect certain aspects, but for the most part we choose who we become.
2. The best stories involve conflict. How exciting would Lord of the Rings been if Frodo just marched straight to Mordor and destroyed the ring, without conflict? We cheered for Frodo because he went through so many conflicts to accomplish his goals. Our lives are similar. Things that don’t invite conflict (difficulty) into our lives typically don’t have much intrinsic value. Joel Runyon (Impossible Manifesto) put it this way,
People say they want a lot of things and go after them until they run into conflict. Then they give up and start something else only to give up once again, leaving a trail of unfinished story lines and unresolved conflict in their wake. Then they wonder why they never feel like they’ve accomplished anything…they haven’t yet.
3. Is it worthwhile? If you decide to live your life in a way that tells a great story, which will inevitably invite conflict, you’ve got to make sure it’s ibeen worthwhile. Often times people start something and quit because the conflict was too great, but those things we truly want we’ll do anything.
4. Fear is natural. Going for greatness can be scary. You’re going to be out of your comfort zone a lot. Just remember that fear is natural and can serve a positive purpose in your story. Fear has been shown to push people to action and be more alert. However, fear that paralyzes you, can destroy your entire story. Think about Lord of the Rings. Frodo let fear paralyze him a few times throughout the story that almost killed him. It’s ok to have fear as long as it’s pushing you forward.
Show How your Talents Turn Into Benefits for Businesses
Successful businesses associate themselves with people who add to or create results. Understanding this fundamental fact, will change the way you talk about yourself. This takes the focus from telling companies what you love to do into how what you love to do will benefit their bottom line.
Focus on Your ‘Success Facts’
This may be the most important aspect of selling yourself. What you’ve done in the business world (or your industry) really determines who you are in a business. Take the opportunity to tell potential clients or job seekers what you’ve done successfully throughout your career. For example, my brother can tell potential clients that he has won national awards, produced videos for major brands, and created viral videos all before the age of 20. What this means to a business is:
If they can have success for themselves or another company, why can’t they be successful for us?
People who answer that question best (with proof) are typically the ones that get hired and get new clients.
Remove Your Blinders and Accept Opportunity
This part really comes down to selling yourself to…yourself. Selling yourself to yourself is understanding that the path to success isn’t straight and narrow. You may view yourself as a niche provider who has very specific esthetics, visions, and dreams. That’s great, but don’t let that hinder you from using stepping stones beyond your niche and esthetics to reach your goals.