Selling yourself or your company? Same golden rule applies

Tony Hallett

Tony Hallett

Managing Director

July 22, 2015 10:02 am

I was speaking to a friend about how he goes about getting a new job. The talk inevitably turned to LinkedIn and I brought up an evergreen post from this blog: The one secret to a LinkedIn profile that works for you – and your employer. That secret, in a nutshell, is that you focus on your team and organisation’s achievements. You concentrate on results and the big picture. You don’t bore the world about you.

Now you might not agree with that approach. Ninety-nine per cent of LinkedIn profiles will sell an individual’s achievements, education, career history – the usual things.

LinkedIn cushion

That’s both hard – because it relies on people selling themselves – and makes employee/employer feel queasy because the assumption is that the person is always in the shop window. What are you supposed to do if you love your job? Put up a crappy LinkedIn profile? (Some people actually do that, by the way. Want an example? It’s just too embarrassing to single one out.)

But then last week I saw something related to a job search that totally nailed how we must go about selling ourselves and – arguably, at least as important – how we should always pitch or market companies.

The story was about someone applying for a job at Airbnb (which also happens to have launched an interesting brand publication). Nina Mufleh must have been joining a line of tens of thousands of people speculatively approaching this fashionable and high-growth company. Her secret was to give the company some advice on how they should expand.

In short, her approach was all about Airbnb, not about her. Only it helped her. The replies she received included this one from Airbnb’s CMO:

Here was someone saying not, “Hey, I’m great, hire me”, but, “Here’s how you become more successful”. That’s what companies care about.
Here’s the takeaway: Don’t say you’ll be useful; demonstrate your usefulness.

I was working with some people at a marketing agency about a year ago and every pitch they made had hardly a slide or section about them. They led – always – with information about the company in the room with them: “This is what we know about you”, “Here’s how your market is changing”, “This is what you should do”. Finally – only after all that – did they get to, “Here’s how we can help”. Maybe only the very last slide is about their agency.

Does this all sound obvious? Then you’re probably part of that 1 per cent on LinkedIn and in meetings who already takes this approach. The rest of us, though, might benefit from a “demonstrate-your-usefulness” reminder.
*photo credit: Linkedin via photopin (license)


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