Would you pass the ‘tell me more’ test?

I’m going to start this blog with a bold statement — I’m confident that whether you’re searching for your next position, or in business, you’ll find value in this post.

I got the idea to write this blog just now, although it relates to an event that occurred on Friday.

When inspiration comes you have to act on it fast or risk losing it forever!

One of the challenges we all face in a world where information is increasingly free-flowing and attention spans are getting shorter, is being heard. Standing out in the job market and in business, is becoming increasingly more difficult.

My business, Career Codex operates in an extremely competitive space. I know what I do is different, but communicating this to potential clients or those that could act as introducers of potential clients is challenging. When we describe what we do in life, people make an instant judgement. Often this isn’t based on an accurate assessment of what we have to offer, but on preconceptions based somewhere in the subconscious and born from past experience(s).

If I describe myself as a ‘career coach’ (I rarely do this by the way) the recipient of my words with a positive coaching experience under their belt will make a different assessment of my offering than someone who has never benefited from coaching or who has had a bad experience in the past.

I offer what I offer and the words I utter are uniform, yet the listener based on past experience(s) will make an instant judgement and ‘switch on’ or ‘switch off’ to everything I say from that moment on.

In this example, even if the listener had a great coaching experience in the past, I’ve done nothing to differentiate myself from everyone else in the career coaching space and am therefore fighting an uphill battle from the very beginning. Even if they were potentially interested in what I do and have to offer, because I’ve done nothing with my opening gambit to really convince them to listen on, the conversation has a high probability of ending there and then!

This is where the ‘tell me more’ test comes into play. In any new engagement, you have a tiny window of opportunity to communicate your message. You have a person’s attention for a split second before they make a judgement about the future of your relationship. In my opinion, you have to use this window wisely to achieve three things:

  1. Grab attention and interest — if we’re interested by something, we give it more airtime. An interesting headline, a bold statement, or something we’ve not heard before increases the window of time we allocate to make a decision. This is why when composing an email to someone you don’t know, the majority of time should be invested in the subject line. In composing this blog post, I spent at least 50% of the time it took to write it in coming up with a compelling and interesting title that would encourage you to read on. If you’re reading this now, I suspect it was time well spent!
  2. Easily understood and absorbed — understanding what you do and what difference you make in the world should not be an academic pursuit. To get you, your business, and the value you can potentially bring should be effortless. If it’s easy to understand, by default the recipient will absorb it easily too, which leads onto my next point.
  3. Memorable and mobile — when you meet new people, the chances of them having a need for what you have to offer right there and then, or them knowing someone who needs your help or expertise is minimal. You need to make your message memorable so that two months down the line when someone asks them ‘do you know someone who could…?’ they remember you in an instant. When your message is attention grabbing, easily understood and memorable, it also makes it mobile — because people are more likely to remember, they’re more likely to pass it on.

You know if you’ve passed the tell me more test if the person you’re engaging with, smiles and utters — ‘please tell me more!’ (or words to that effect).

[I should explain here, for anyone who has read my book Super Secrets of Successful Executive Job Search that before you position your own experience, in any engagement it should be first and foremost ‘all about them’ — the ‘jobseeker dichotomy’ always applies.]

Originality, personalisation and experimentation is important:

Last week I conducted a number of introductory calls with prospective ‘Executive Edge‘ and ‘Jump Start’ clients.

When I explain what I do, I normally use statements such as:

‘I help people take proactive control of their job search / career.’

‘I empower my clients to define, find and then secure the job opportunity they really want, not just the one they’ve seen advertised or had presented to them by professional recruiters.’

‘Successful job search has very little to do with a CV / resume — through the Career Codex framework of environment, psychology, planning and process I show my clients how to manage their career both now and in the future.’

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, I do all of the above and much more, but do the above statements pass the tell me more test? Well yes, for prospective clients who have consumed some of my online education and raised their hands for a 1–1 call, they probably do. But, for someone completely new to my offer, with no previous experience of my business — probably not!

Success is about asking the right (and sometimes difficult) questions and then being very honest about the answers. So here goes:

Do any of the above statements grab interest or attention? Well maybe, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Are they easily understood and absorbed? Mmmmm, possibly not — again I’ll let you be the judge.

Finally, are they memorable and mobile? Although I hate to admit it, the honest answer is probably not.

The catalyst for this self-reflection on the messages I put out there to promote my business came from the webinar I delivered on how to proactively position yourself on LinkedIn (if you missed it you can click here to watch the replay).

Aside from the photograph, the first thing people who land on your LinkedIn profile usually pay attention to is your ‘professional headline’. The temptation here is to use your job title as the descriptive. Now there is potentially some merit in this — if someone is searching for a ‘finance director’, having this in your headline makes sense — right? Well, yes and no — while it describes the job you do, it in no way communicates the value you add and it doesn’t distinguish you from other people with the same job title who may also pop up in the same search results.

My current professional headline (at the time of writing) reads:

★Thinking differently to help people find the right career (careercodex.com) & businesses to grow (pembridgegray.co.uk)★

Is it better than career coach? Well yes, it probably is as it goes some way to explain what my services deliver. But, could it be better and more interesting, understandable and memorable? The answer has to be ‘yes’!

By the way — a useful trick to see how other people in your industry describe themselves, is to click on the ‘pencil’ icon next to your headline and then on: ‘See what other users in your industry are using >’ (see the image below).

Whether you’re using your profile to promote your business or to find your next job, this could be important and useful information.

In life there is rarely certainty and trial and error if embraced can be our greatest teacher and fuel for advancement — this is ‘experimentation’ in the heading above.

So with my rule of three — ‘attention grabbing’, ‘understandable’ and ‘memorable’ in mind, on my last introductory call of the week I tried something different to explain who I am, what I do and more importantly what impact I have on my clients’ lives. What’s more I attempted to inject some ‘originality’ and ‘personality’ to boot (also highlighted in the heading above) — once again I’ll let you be the judge of this.

I’ve studied martial arts for over 25 years and used to compete in Muay Thai / Thai Boxing. This is a huge part of my personality and has been a driving force that has given me the determination and discipline to start, run and grow my own businesses. In a world where many prefer to hide behind the ‘corporate veil’, revealing something of yourself and putting it out there for all to see, in my opinion can only be a good thing.

So in my last call of the week, I tried something different and described myself as:

A trainer, coach and cornerman:

I train my clients how to define, find and secure the job they really want.

I’m their coach and give them the motivation and confidence to take massive and consistent action.

I’m their cornerman and am by their side as an expert adviser, confidant and supporter.

I’m a trainer, coach and cornerman!

What was the result? Well as I was talking to my prospective client via GoToMeeting, I got to see the expression on his face — he smiled, nodded his head and laughed.

Whether he becomes a client or not, to some extent is irrelevant, in that moment I knew he ‘got it’ and what’s more he’ll likely ‘remember it’ — and when people remember, your message gets mobile.

So, if you’re reading this, I have a question for you and if you could take a moment to answer it, I’d be extremely grateful.

What do you think of trainer, coach and cornerman — did you get it? Is it attention grabbing, easily understood and memorable? What I think counts for nothing — what’s in the mind of the people I’m trying to reach is much more important. How can I improve, how can I communicate my message more effectively — what do you think?

While you reflect on this, how do you currently position your offering in the job market or describe what your business does? Does it pass the tell me more test and could you inject some originality and personality to stand out and make your message more attention grabbing, easily understood and memorable?

Don’t worry if you don’t quite get it right first time — as I said above, trial and error can be a fantastic teacher!

If you have a view, please click here to send me a message — your time and opinion are very much appreciated. If there’s anything I can do to help you, just let me know too.

Originally published at careercodex.com on April 17, 2016.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.