Do you have a difficult time pitching yourself? When you are in a position to promote yourself, what happens? Are you able to confidently list off what you bring to the table, or do you find yourself undercutting your skills out of insecurity or discomfort. For some entrepreneurs it can be hard, bringing up a bundle of complicated feelings. But in order to attract new clients, secure more resources or funding, and build partnerships – being able to communicate the value you bring is an essential skill. To improve your skill at selling yourself, and more importantly selling your skills, it is key to separate the feelings you have about selling yourself from the act of selling itself. Feelings are important, no doubt, but sometimes they can undermine your ability to get that client, and build your business. I am not advocating for you to shut off your feelings valve, but I am suggesting that you get to know how you feel, so they don’t sneak up on you, and you can effectively manage them if they start to sabotage your opportunity. Try these five steps to improve your ability to sell your skills, and not yourself.
First, Reframe it: Sell your Skills, not your Self: A great way to start is to reframe the activity. Instead of thinking about selling yourSELF, think about the process as selling yourSKILLS. Your work is a collection of the Skills that you have, that combined, make you the ideal candidate for someone who is looking for those skills. Certainly you bring your Self to those skills, but the Skills are the key.
Second, get to know your Skill set: What are you good at, where do you excel? Write them down, all of them. Challenge yourself to get granular. Write them ALL down. This seems obvious, but often we don’t take the time to actually analyze what it is we are doing, we just go do it. Take the time to identify those Skills without judgement. You being good or bad at one thing is no reflection on your Self worth. I am learning how to edit video content, I’m not very good at it, but I am no more or less worthy as a storyteller because I have colleagues that are much better at video editing than I am. If you are having trouble identifying your Skills list, ask someone who knows your work to help you. (Full disclosure, I would not put editing video on my Skills list. )
Third, acknowledge how you feel about your Skills list: Read your Skills list out loud to a trusted friend, how does that make you feel? What does it bring up? Is it difficult to do? Do you feel embarrassed, or empowered? Does it feel like bragging to say it out loud? Does it make you feel more confident? Acknowledge those feelings, talk about it with your friend, or confidant.
Fourth, Distill your Skills list: Let’s take a second to acknowledge how amazing you are. Look at all you can do! You kick ass! Now, take that long list of your awesomeness, and trim it to your top 5 essential Skills. Don’t forget about all the other amazing things you a can do, just save them for more detailed conversations.
Fifth, Practice!!!: To get comfortable selling yourSKILLS, you gotta practice. Practice with people you know well, and more importantly, those you don’t. Sell yourSKILLS to the mirror, to your cat, to that trusted colleague, to the Lyft driver, at the next networking event you attend, and ultimately to that new client you are wooing. How many times do you get asked “so, what do you do?,” use those opportunities to refine your pitch. It doesn’t have to be perfect every time, you just need to do it. The more you speak about your skills and experience, the easier it will get.
Let me know how it goes!!