Learning How to Sell Yourself

My friend Suzanne Lyons is an independent producer and co-founder of Flash Forward Institute, a wonderful organization that helps people jump start their careers. When she lectures, she tells her audience they have to think of themselves as the CEOs of their own companies—the premise being that the product your company is selling is you, and if you're not successful at selling your product and aren't out there giving it all you've got, your product won't sell and your company won't survive. So the trick is to learn how to best sell your most prized product—yourself.

One of the most valuable things I've learned from Suzanne, and her partner Heidi Wall, is how to develop a personal pitch, and it all starts by having you figure out exactly who you are, what you have to offer, what you're passionate about and what makes you unique. Whether it's at a job interview or general information meeting; whether you're trying to set up a meeting or are interacting with people at a networking function, seminar or social event, you'll find numerous occasions to sell yourself. Sometimes you'll get thirty seconds to pitch, sometimes a minute or two; so it's good to have a couple of different versions. Regardless of the length— let me jump back to the being-the-CEO-of-your-own-company metaphor—because it's certain that the better your pitch, the more successful you'll be at selling your product.

You can start developing your personal pitch by defining who you are. What are your strengths and abilities? What are your accomplishments? What makes you interesting? What are you passionate about? What makes you special? Who are you as a person: do you have a terrific personality, a great sense of humor, a willingness to go the distance, a strong work ethic? What is it about your past experiences that can attest to the fact that you're creative, clever, a fast-thinker, a team player, a problem-solver, a risk taker? The trick is to be able to capture your essence— who you are and what you're about in a very concise manner. Once you've developed your pitch and start using it, it'll become more natural and get easier to recite.

If this will help, use the following exercises to start defining yourself:

#1. List your three top goals:

#2. List three unique things about yourself that most other people don't know.

#3. List three of your biggest accomplishments (personal or professional).

#4. List three special skills—things you're good at (i.e., organization, problem-solving, other languages, getting along with difficult people, leadership, team building).

#5. List three things that excite you and make you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

#6. List three hobbies or interests.

#7. List three of your strongest qualities (i.e., patience, creativity, sense of humor).

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