As someone who has been in the association space for about half a decade now, here is my advice for the upcoming generation. In addition to this video, I wrote a blog post about the importance of telling your story as a young professional.
If video’s not your thing, here’s the transcript of my advice to the emerging young professional.
Although the comedian in me really wanted to leave the original transcript at YouTube transcribed it, I did in the end, edit it to the best of my recollection. If there’s something slightly amiss, please forgive the error.
Hi. I’m Christina Green and I’m a freelance writer and marketer for associations, chambers of commerce and small businesses.
Here’s my advice to you emerging young professional:
Take advantage of the time you have now. I know you don’t feel like you have any time that you’re so stressed with work and you come home and just want to relax but 15 years from now you’re going to have responsibilities you haven’t even dreamed of yet so take advantage of the time that you have now.
Join the groups you’re interested in, spend your time thinking about what you want to do in your career.
Gaining the knowledge that would be necessary. I know that you’ve just graduated from school and it seems like you just got done educating yourself what more do you have to do? But let me tell you, the way things are moving with social media and new technologies constantly changing, you have to be in charge of your own education. It’s a very rare organization that’s going to come to you and ask you to you learn more about a topic. To be a vital and contributing part of this market you need to constantly be on top of the technologies that are out there and the different ways of doing things. No one’s going to do that for you. You need to take that upon yourself, which brings me back to time.
If somebody asks you to take on a special project, something that could be the beginning of a huge opportunity for you, don’t tell them they’re gonna have to wait until the weekend or they’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks because it’s a pretty stressful time (for you) at work right now and you just don’t know when it’s going to happen. Give them an exact date that they can expect that deadline or that product to be produced or that service to be rendered and then beat (due date).
Now is the time to wow people. Now is the time to knock them on their tukus.
You have the time work hard. Do it. I know you can. That’s my advice to you emerging professional.
While I am a firm believer that a memoir is probably not the right fit for a ten year-old looking to publish a book, telling your story is not something to put off until you’re middle-aged. Your story is part of your personal brand and can help you stand out in a sea of people who are equally exuberant and equally without relevant job history.
When I was asked a few weeks ago to put together a post about advice I would give a young association professional, my first reaction was “to make the most of your time” because as you age it not only goes faster but you have less of it. Making the most of your time means: joining groups; experimenting with different projects and tasks to find out what you’re really skilled at and what you like; keeping your skills up-to-date by taking control of your own personal development – a diploma doesn’t mean the learning is complete; starting that novel now versus later…you get the idea.
You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. – The Breakfast Club
But I would also add that it’s important while you’re doing these things to examine who you are, where you came from and what makes you unique. Think of the college entrance essays you wrote about what inspires you or shaped you. Use those things to tell your story.
Questions/Tips for Creating and Telling Your Story
Think about when you’re happiest. What does that say about you?
How would your friends describe you?
If Hollywood told your story, who would they cast to play you and what parts of your life would they highlight?
Think about what the market wants/needs right now and answer how you can fill it based on your life experiences.
Keep in mind that employers, networkers, peers will all see you as they see any other recent grad – ready to take on the world with no practical experience with which to do so.
Stand out from the crowd.
Tell them who you are.
Don’t wait for them to decide.
Tell your story.
There was a lot of great advice on the topic. I encourage you to read:
You had a reason — for going off on your own to start a business or accepting a job. You had something that sparked your initial interest in the possibility.
For me, it was following the enchanting thought of being my own boss and making my own schedule. It was the thrill of climbing out of the corporate ivory tower to get back to people I thought I could help. It was being able to form close personal relationships and not be encumbered by a corporate structure.
We’ve all heard an actor ask, “What’s my motivation?”, to a director. Discovering the motivation tells the actor how to play a role and it also affects how we (as the audience) feel about the character. For instance we feel very differently about a woman with a starving child at home who steals a loaf of bread because all of her money went to pay for her husband’s burial versus a teen from a gated community who takes a 99 cent bottle of nail polish because she likes the feeling she gets of nearly getting caught. The bread is worth more but we have more empathy for the woman. While we may not be able to identify with the desperation she feels, we can understand that. Your audience will do the same when you share your motivation behind your current role.
If you leave out the motivation behind why you started a business or why you chose to be a part of your organization, you’re leaving out the best part — the part that evokes a response and is a foundation for building a relationship.
photo’s story: the motivation behind building the Taj Mahal is frequently told as a love story but the building wasn’t built to win the heart of a princess. It was to commemorate her death. She died giving birth to the emperor’s 14th child. This amazing building was something he promised her on her death bed. It took 22 years to complete.
Thursday is the Great American Teach-In. Adults in the community are asked to come speak to students and explain what they do for a living. It’s sort of like Bring Your Child to Work Day but in reverse – it’s Bring Your Parent to School Day.
Having recently started a business, and with all of the excitement of a child with a new toy, I jumped at the chance to share my experience with the kids.
The problem is I’m in marketing. I spend all day long telling others how to tell their story. Now I have to tell mine — and to a roomful of rambunctious six-year olds.
I’m always telling people to tell their story. But how is a whole ‘nother, well….story. How about some insight on the how?
Serving what your audience wants is crucial to maintaining one
I went to a baby shower a while back. All of the dishes served had some form of nuts in them – almond string beans, peanut-encrusted chicken, carrot cake (with walnuts). You would’ve thought the momma-to-be loved nuts. Actually, she hated them but the hostess thought everything was better with nuts and people liked them.
The hostess, in this example, is an old-school marketer. She is serving up what she wants to serve, what she thinks should be served. She’s mistaking general popularity with what her guests want, when in reality, the guest of honor doesn’t even want it.