I’ve always felt weird about selling with words what I do or what I can. It just didn’t ring true to me to perform this widely accepted social act that many would call “networking,” but that I’d refer to (with all the contempt that I’m capable of) “boasting.”
Then I grew up and started realizing what not talking about the things you’re proud of means. Well, it means you remain in obscurity. And while for many of us this can be a much desired personal choice, when you’re out to get gigs as a freelancer, you just need to talk about what you’re good at.
I know what you’re going to say. That nobody truly cares about hearing that. Well, you can make them care. You just need to get that quirky monster living inside you to show a tooth or two. The charming ones, I mean.
Leaving the “normal” work cycle often forces you to leave the comfort zone of secure monthly payments, shared corporate irresponsibility and so on.
That’s why freelancing is like growing up. You may still keep a few toys in the wardrobe, and some scary creatures under the bed or in your imagination, but the world just demands more from you. Namely, to participate fully.
Yes, mom cannot tell you what to wear today (nor can your ex-boss who doesn’t like those purple jeans of yours). But you have to do the laundry yourself. And you don’t know whether wool can be washed on 40 degrees…
Or simply put, you have to deal with irregular payments, hectic workflow, lack of security, and so on. All the troubles of freelance life.
And meanwhile, the world wants more from you. One of its biggest demands is to have a good story.
And if you’re like me, when you hear that people want something from you (in order to entrust you work or to collaborate with you on a project), you probably want to run and hide with the creatures under the bed. But hey, you’re an adult.
The scariest part is that they want you to impress them. To give them something unique that proves how creative and cool you are. And here a Word-file CV just won’t do it.
Oh boy, conventional interviews seem like a walk in the park compared to this.
Here comes salvation. You don’t need to boast or lie. Not even to underline the greatness of your education or work experience.
Wherever you need to present yourself, whether with a cool personal website, or a meeting with potential clients, you just have to tell that compelling story of you. Yes, you.
Nobody cares where you went to school or what cool agency you’ve worked at. They would truly care and appreciate your experience if you manage to connect with them on an emotional level through your personal narrative. Through the unique story that weaves together your own life, whether you’re paying attention to it or not.
To get to that story, just sit down and press rewind on your past experiences. Remember your inspirations. The cool people that made a difference for you, who shaped your path in some way. The most difficult moments when you wanted to escape. The most joyful ones when you simply couldn’t hold all the joy.
Then connect the dots. And hit play. That’s the story you have and live – and which makes you you.
Once you’ve started sharing your authentic narrative, instead of hiding or repeating a blank story about education and jobs, it all becomes so easy.
Because people can relate to you better. Because you’ve shown them a little piece of the real you. And when everybody is tired of pretense, truthfulness brings a much needed and wanted fresh air.
You can even borrow some tips from brand storytelling, the science of making brands lovable. The same principles apply to your own narrative – being truthful, honest and telling an engaging story is what win people’s hearts. It’s what makes them want to not only talk to you, but do business with you.
I wouldn’t say that if you meet me at an event, I would be all up to tell you my latest wins and push a bizcard in your face. I won’t. But I’ll tell you hello, alright. And if you ask in the right way, I might have a story or two for you. What about you?
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