To begin, you have to decide exactly what message you want to put out there, which, of course, will depend greatly on your particular story and individual goals for your brand. Below, is a selection of different options to consider when determining how you want to approach your personal brand and tell your own story. The list is by no means comprehensive but intended to get your creative juices flowing.
Discuss a difficult time in your life, and how you overcame it.
One effective strategy for personal storytelling involves finding a challenging time in your life and talking about how you got past those challenges. By offering up your real challenges and sharing stories of both successful and unsuccessful attempts to meet them, you can engage your followers while allowing them to learn new ways to overcome obstacles in their own lives. When followers resonate with your brand these stories are both educational and motivational, arming your fans with both useful information and the feeling that the struggles they themselves are facing are struggles that others have overcome. This, in turn, helps them believe in their own eventual success.
Talk about a funny moment, that changed the way you think and feel about something.
A great example of this strategy would be the old story of the truck that got stuck in a too-short underpass. Every solution all the experts on the scene proposed to get the truck out would damage either the truck or the underpass. Finally, a young child asks why they don’t just let some of the air out of the tires then back the truck out, and the child becomes a hero for seeing the problem differently than all the adults. Stories like this, like fables, illustrate simple life lessons, in ways that personalize the learning, which leads to deeper understanding.
Share something you learned during your career that changed the trajectory of your gifts.
Most of us did not start on the career path that we are currently following. A recent Wall Street Journal article estimates Americans change careers somewhere between four and seven times in their work-lives. This means that a substantial number of your followers are either in the middle of, or are considering, a career change at any given time and the twists and turns of other successful people’s careers makes for valuable, engaging reading.
Talk about how learning from the best mentors around you launched your career.
Chances are, you didn’t get to where you are now without a few good mentors. Since your followers are generally inclined to view you as a guide (or potential mentor), stories about how your life and career was influenced by significant mentors, not only allow your followers to get to know you better, they also reinforce the value of mentorship and community, while still conveying valuable business lessons.
Show how failing fast got you to success.
Stories of dark times, crisis or unfortunate events, often lead to dramatic decisions or significant changes in directions; these also make engaging stories that build the value of your personal brand in the telling. The particular value of this type of story is it has near universal appeal since almost all of us have faced those moments when we realize that continuing on as we have been is no longer a viable option and we have to change.
Find and share a deep moment that defined you.
Take a look back at your career and compare yourself to who you are now. Chances are who you are as a professional has changed in a few significant ways. Key into the events that lead to those changes and talk to your followers about what happened and how it changed you. The more you can share the process you went through, in addition to the conclusions and results, the more engaging your readers will find it.
Again, these examples are not a comprehensive list of options for telling your personal story, they are a jumping-off point, to get you started. The ones that lead you to feel excited are likely to be those that your followers will be most engaged by. The essence of this strategy is to take a few key nuggets of learning, wrap them up with a few tasty morsels of who you are, and create a kind of mental appetizer that gets your followers thinking and connects them in genuine ways to your brand and story.