Lesson 1: Tell Your Story

Welcome to Day 1 of The 30 Day Networking Challenge!

We might be calling it a “challenge”, but you’re not going to get shipped off to some island with other professionals where you battle it out (that’s a horrible idea for a reality TV show). What I mean is you’ll be challenging yourself to get outside your comfort zone, and to think hard about how you relate to people professionally.

If that still sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. We’re going to take it slow. The first two weeks are all about self-reflection and preparation. You won’t even send a message until week 3.

The first step? Defining your career story.

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is perhaps the most essential professional skill, especially in a job-hunting context. If someone is able to clearly communicate both how they can help me and why they’re passionate about what they do, I sit up and take notice.

A compelling narrative can neutralize the negative effects of resume “problems” — like long periods of unemployment or frequent job hopping. After all, who can blame you for relentlessly pursuing a dream, though it led you down an unconventional path?

The Biggest Networking Mistake

Whenever I’m at a networking event and I ask what someone does, I cringe if it goes like this,

“I’m a [Job Title] for [Company].”

It’s a factually correct answer, but there’s no “there” there. When I’m asking about someone’s work, I’m really asking, “What are you passionate about? Who do you serve? Why? How do you make the world a better place?”

“What do you do?” is just the…less intense way of saying it.

When you network, it’s up to you to provide all of that context upfront. Your story, when told well, invites conversation and connection. By speaking to your own deep motivations, you can connect meaningfully with people you’ve just met.

Today’s Assignment:

Fill out this career story worksheet. Then, add it as a bio on BrightCrowd.

EXTRA CREDIT: You can get extra inspiration for your story from this doc. Then, share what you’ve written on the doc for feedback.

Best,
T.J.

Up next: On Wednesday we’ll go over best practices for resumes. After all, even if you’re not looking for work, a slick resume is awesome to have in your back pocket.