Advice from Carol Vernon, certified executive coach and principal of Communication Matters, about how to use stories to share your successes and benefit your career.
Associations Now: Why are people afraid to talk about their successes?
Vernon: Lots of smart people believe they shouldn't have to say how good they are; their results should speak for themselves. Many of these same folks can't stand the idea of touting their accomplishments. It seems like bragging to them. I get this kind of thinking, but at the same time, remember this lesson from PR 101: If you don't tell people what you've done, others will simply create their own story about you.
How can people get started on this?
Start by clarifying your unique value and contributions in terms of what matters most to you and others in your organization. Next, use language that allows others to connect with your story. For instance, it sounds very different when someone talks about how proud she is to be on a team that has accomplished X versus simply saying she did XYZ, or how honored she is to be invited to serve on the CEO Task Force versus simply saying she's on the CEO Task Force. People are attracted and connect to words that generate energy, excitement, and emotion.
Where are good places for people to tell their stories?
My recommendation is to take advantage of everyday work situations. Think about some of the small-talk situations you're in every week, including waiting for people to arrive at a meeting or join a conference call, or the chance meetings coming and going from the office or getting coffee. Each of these simple connections can provide an opportunity to create more meaningful talk about something you're excited to be working on that is relevant to the organization.
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[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Success Storyteller."]