This morning – like so many others- there are a couple of invitations to connect on LinkedIn in my inbox. As is so often the case now I don’t remember meeting them and neither explain to me why we should connect but are simply the default generic message ” I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. I usually check the headline of the person and if there is an obvious link I will go over to their profile to find out more.
Sometimes there is no more. There are words , lists, details…but nothing that helps me get a sense of who that person is. Unless I can feel the potential for something meaningful to happen from us being connected I am left wondering “what’s the point”.
I was reminded of this when working with young people involved in the Young Enterprise Scotland Company Programme ( if you don’t know about us yet please take a look!). As we head to the very final stages of the competition they have two more stages to go through. The first is an interview where members of the team are questioned by a panel about their experience and the following week they are asked to make a presentation at the awards night about that experience . They were practising both and have loads to talk about which makes finding the what to include in the short sessions a huge challenge . I suggested that they focus on making sure they tell the judges for both events what they want them to know about them as individuals and how they worked as a team.
Now that might seem obvious. But I have seen so many examples of where opportunities have been missed because it wasn’t.
I lead the Effective Manager programme at the Edinburgh Institute at Edinburgh Napier University. As assessment the students are asked to plan how to use what they learn in each workshop , put that plan into action and then write about what happened when they did. Most of the students I have worked with on this and other practice based learning programmes have no problem relating the facts – who did what, when, who was there, what happened – but many will find it challenging to write about what they learned about themselves. That’s what they are being assessed on so it is important and when they get that it is always inspiring.
And when you do know what you want others to know about you how you do that is key.
Over the past few weeks I have been leading sessions in schools on speaking skills. Although we include presentation skills we also stress that what they learn can be applied to answering a question in class, making a case to try to persuade someone or even win an argument. One thing that is guaranteed to get in the way of doing that well is when someone rambles rather than having a simple beginning ,middle and end to what they want to say. In these one day workshops we ask the young people to talk about themselves – their views, their experiences, their passions. It helps me as the workshop leader get to know them better, their classmates or often surprised by what they hear but crucially it means that they have to work on getting across what they want us to know. Sometimes in less than a minute.
We owe it to ourselves to help others get to know us better rather than to have them do the hard work to try to find out.
So what should we know about you that would help us understand whether we would like to work with you,employ you or simply spend some time with you?
If you would like some help to explore that please get in touch .