I meant to write this post a while back after writing my first post about the Own It Summit. This one targets a more professional / working mantra. I think the toughest question anyone can ever ask me is "Tell me about yourself." It is just so vague that I never know where to go with it. Clearly they don't want to hear my life story but do I tell them what I do at college or what my goals are... where is the middle ground? After years of interviewing for internships and jobs I wish I could say I had this down pat. It still trips me up and it still makes me nervous. I think its the fact that I absolutely hate talking about myself or putting the focus on me.
While at the summit a wonderful woman, Supriya Hobbs, said something that really stuck with me. She lead a breakout session called "Creating a Story" where she discussed the importance of telling your life through stories. Its easy to push this aside by thinking it is too obvious and don't we already do this. And yes, we do this all the time in our lives but that's the point. Think of how many stories you tell in a single day. They prove a very vital role in our daily lives.
Now here is the kicker, what is your story? For every person you run into you have to shape your life in a new way. Whether it is for an interview as a consultant or at a fashion magazine your story needs to represent you and your goals. You can use the same story for both interviews but you will frame it differently. Learning how to do this can be extremely helpful in your life.
You should be able to comb through your life and create a short, 30 second story about yourself (your elevator story). If you and the head of a company you dream of working at (for me let's say its Amy Astley the Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue) I need to know how to present myself to her. I can't let the elevator ride go to waste. I should have my elevator story ready to introduce myself to Amy. You can use this elevator story while networking at events or even just in interviews.
It definitely takes time to get there but I recommend practicing in the mirror or with your friends. Once you have it down, you can learn how to tweak it on the spot depending on who your talking too. The key is to have a great first and last line. Start with an intriguing hook and end with a final line that leaves them wanting more or asking a question. During delivery, even though its only 30 seconds maintain good eye contact. Good luck!