Danger – Spontaneity Ahead! Why You Need a Communications Strategy for Social Media.

We live in a complex but highly networked world!

Never before have so many people had the ability to communicate cheaply with each other, and the rest of the world, at length!

  • You can broadcast and you can have conversations through networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc and through messaging services!
  • You  can publish and broadcast if you choose through blogs, and through sites like YouTube.
  • You can produce your own radio programmes and even become a DJ through music sites like Blip.fm sitting at home and on the move!
  • Increasingly LinkedIn is a key tool in professional networking and recruitment.

A little while ago this digital world belonged to techies and school kids.  Now it can belong to all of us.

Increasingly, it will play a role in both career and business survival.  A little while ago all you needed to know was how to surf the net to find and download information. Now you need to know how to put it back up there so that you can control and develop your personal brand.

Messages flow fast!  Once you have sent them, they continue to exist on the web for a very long time.  So to be purely spontaneous is to take a risk. If you are in business or hoping to develop your career, you need a strategy for your communications.

Before you start here are a few tips.

1. Integrate online and offline.

Your communication’s strategy needs to cover both your offline and online activities!

If you meet up with contacts you have made on the web, will they know who you are? No, I’m not talking about having a photo that bears some relationship to how you look today.  (Although, it makes sense to choose a flattering photo that does you justice, have a care if you want to avoid embarrassment)

What I’m talking about is authenticity and integrity.  Don’t express views on line that you don’t really hold, or that you wouldn’t be prepared to express in public, to your boss, your work mates, your neighbours and, of course, your customers! You’d be surprised what people remember and what people find on the web!

2. Start with a plan!

Before you jump in, make sure you have a plan!  Think about who you are trying to influence.  Who has an interest in you, your business or your career and what you do?

List them and then decide how important they are and how much influence they have over your future!  What heading will you put them under?  For example;

  • government
  • your sector
  • customers and potential customers
  • shareholders
  • potential business partners
  • board/top management
  • suppliers  and potential new suppliers,
  • managers,
  • staff,
  • trade unions
  • wider sector interests,
  • personal contacts
  • family,
  • your community
  • interest groups

You can take it as far as you wish!

Who has the priority?  You can score them out of five under each heading!

Those with the highest score are the people to concentrate on.

For social media you are usually looking at communities – what communities are you going to engage in?

Now how will you engage and what will that  engagement  look like?

What is the message and where are you going to communicate it – blogs, social network sites, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc.?

How much time have you got and how many resources do you have available? Do you have resources available to take professional advice?

3. Engage in Conversations.

Remember although organisations use social media to broadcast, that isn’t how they are best used.

When you use social media, it’s important to engage in conversations and get to know people just like in the offline world.

Don’t just get in there and start pitching – it will just put people off!  And on social media sites people get put off pretty quickly. You’d be surprised how quickly they can switch you off!

Don’t be anxious to promote yourself or your business at first!  You have to give, to get.  Add value and expertise and win respect in your conversations.  You need to win the right to pitch!

The courtesies are just as important as they are in the off line world!  Say please and thank you and acknowledge when someone has bothered to spend time with you or done you a favour!

If you are polite and engage in real conversations, relationships will begin to form.  You will see opportunities open up to talk about you and what you want to offer!

4. Monitor your “Brand”

Use tools like Google Alerts, and Yahoo Alerts to monitor what’s being said about you, your organisation, others in your sector and the market you are targeting.

Knowing what is being said about you and/or your brand can make you aware of your impact. Knowing what’s being said about your sector, your competitors and your market can also make you more competitive.

I use Google Alerts as well to find out about the latest developments in my professional discipline.

But simply putting your name and the name of your organisation into a search engine regularly will tell you a lot about your web presence!

5. Focus and Ignore the Noise

There are so many conversations taking place and so much interesting content that it is easy to be distracted.

I have to work very hard each morning to switch off from Twitter to concentrate on my in-tray! This is where your plan comes in!  Remind yourself what you are trying to say and the communities you want to address.

Stick to the plan!

But review it at regular intervals as you get to understand more about social media.  You can streamline your plan to better target individuals and the communities that you need to be a part of, as you gain experience and knowledge.

Streamlining saves time – as I’ve hinted above, social media is so enjoyable that  it can be the greatest time waster in the world!

Above all remember: “If content is king, then conversation is queen.” – John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka.

I would love to hear about your own experience of social media and if you need any help please get in touch!

A shorter version of this post was posted here in June 2009.  I’ve revised and expanded it based on my own experience of social media.

  • Why Use LinkedIn? (brighthub.com)
  • 5 tips to build your personal brand with social media (xpressartuk.wordpress.com)
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439


>Self Belief and how to change the world!

>

Faroe stamp 130 amnesty internationalImage via Wikipedia

This post appeared yesterday at my other blog www.wisewolftalking.com.  As some of you will be “baby boomers”, I thought you might like to read it here.

There is a great piece in the April edition of Management Today by Denise Kingsmill about the potential for baby boomers  to become entrepreneurs.  Among othet things, Baroness Kingsmill is currently a non-executive director of British, European and US boards.

As the first of us reaches sixty five this year, she argues against the view that we are the ‘me’ generation, expecting the world to change to meet our needs and with a highly developed sense of being special. She goes on to illustrate her point by referring to our achievements quoting the social changes that took place in the second half of the 20th Century, for example, civil rights, feminism and gay rights etc.

She goes on to talk about the pensions’ burden we will put on future generations and that we probably will have go on working much longer!  But as you would expect from a baby boomer, she quotes an academic study* that suggests we will be peculiarly well-fitted to do so as entrepreneurs!

Apparently the mature mind has abilities critical to successful entrepreneurship.   Academic research is showing that with age there is improved coordination between right and left sides of the brain – between analytical skills and creativity.  The part of the brain that regulates emotion starts to work better, making us much less likely to get bogged down in the detail and more likely to come up with holistic creative solutions.  We are more likely to stay focussed.

Already baby boomers make up 60% of the annual Management Today ranking of Britain’s Top 100 entrepreneurs.
It gave me a great boost to read her piece.

Yes we do have to work longer!  But if that is so, my generation will set the world on fire doing it! Oh yes, by sheer force of number we will turn the world of enterprise grey or rather bright, shining and energetic silver.
And then I stopped and thought a bit.  Oh dear this is the Sixties people doing their thing, all over again and we won’t be loved for it.

Yes, this great creative generation of mine will change the world at sixty five, seventy and possibly eighty just as we did at twenty and forty.  Part of it will be force of numbers and part of it will be that other thing the boomers have.  It’s a kind of cross-cohort self belief.  Far from thinking the world should change for us , we thought each and every one of us could change the world!

But we didn’t get to finish the agenda.  Many of us in the sixties recognised the pressures of an increasing population and scarcity of resources as well as the lack of justice in the world.  Green Peace and Amnesty International are a typical baby boomer response. Most of us just got bogged down in the usual pressures of family and work.  In reality, most of us did very little!

Now we do have to work on into our old age and many of us will do it well, with ingenuity and verve.  But it will be a pity if we make such a song and dance about it that yet again we alienate those who come after us.  One thing the baby boomers never did learn was to shut up and just get on with it.   Yes, we started out believing each and every one of us could change the world! But as for me, I just wish we had passed that same self belief on to our children!

Related articles
·         First Baby Boomers Turn 65 (npr.org)


        Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net or ring ++44(0)7867681439
        You can find her business blog at www.wisewolftalking.com  






Self Belief and how to change the world!

Faroe stamp 130 amnesty international

There is a great piece in the April edition of Management Today by Denise Kingsmill about the potential for baby boomers  to become entrepreneurs.  Among othet things, Baroness Kingsmill is currently a non-executive director of British, European and US boards.

As the first of us reaches sixty five this year, she argues against the view that we are the ‘me’ generation, expecting the world to change to meet our needs and with a highly developed sense of being special. She goes on to illustrate her point by referring to our achievements quoting the social changes that took place in the second half of the 20th Century, for example, civil rights, feminism and gay rights etc.

She goes on to talk about the pensions’ burden we will put on future generations and that we probably will have go on working much longer!  But as you would expect from a baby boomer, she quotes an academic study* that suggests we will be peculiarly well-fitted to do so as entrepreneurs!

Apparently the mature mind has abilities critical to successful entrepreneurship.   Academic research is showing that with age there is improved coordination between right and left sides of the brain – between analytical skills and creativity.  The part of the brain that regulates emotion starts to work better, making us much less likely to get bogged down in the detail and more likely to come up with holistic creative solutions.  We are more likely to stay focussed.

Already baby boomers make up 60% of the annual Management Today ranking of Britain’s Top 100 entrepreneurs.

It gave me a great boost to read her piece.

Yes we do have to work longer!  But if that is so, my generation will set the world on fire doing it! Oh yes, by sheer force of numbers we will turn the world of enterprise grey or rather bright, shining and energetic silver.

And then I stopped and thought a bit.  Oh dear this is the Sixties people doing their thing, all over again, and we won’t be loved for it.

Yes, this great creative generation of mine will change the world at sixty five, seventy and possibly eighty, just as we did at twenty and forty.  Part of it will be force of numbers and part of it will be that other thing the boomers have.  It’s a kind of cross-cohort self belief.  Far from thinking the world should change for us , we thought each and every one of us could change the world!

But we didn’t get to finish the agenda.  Many of us in the sixties recognised the pressures of an increasing population and scarcity of resources as well as the lack of justice in the world.  Green Peace and Amnesty International are a typical baby boomer response. Then most of us just got bogged down in the usual pressures of family and work.  In reality, most of us did very little!

Now we do have to work on into our old age and many of us will do it well, with ingenuity and verve.  But it will be a pity if we make such a song and dance about it that yet again we alienate those who come after us.  One thing the baby boomers never did learn was to shut up and just get on with it.   Yes, we started out believing each and every one of us could change the world! But as for me, I just wish we had passed that same self belief on to our children!

*Mental Wellness in Aging, Strengths-Based Approach – Judah Ronch

Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

What are your customers telling you they don’t want? Learn from experience and stay focussed!

Red Herring

Today, I was going to write a third piece on scenario planning.

But I’ve decided not to!

This is for three reasons.

  • First the guidance on scenario planning produced by Shell provides a very good “how to”  guide
  • Second, I’m going to learn from the experience of my first two posts on this subject!
  • Third I’ve looked again at my mission statement and well…!

The first post was applauded as being an excellent summary.  But really I should have stopped there! The second post wasn’t taken up at all!

Oh I’m sure in due course it will get picked up by search engines.  It will pop up somewhere down the list of results when someone googles “ Scenario Planning”.

But really is that what I write for?

I write here to provide simple advice and guidance to those managing or going through change.

A detailed guide to scenario planning doesn’t quite fit the bill does it?

I got a little bit fascinated by scenario planning and off I went!

How often do you get distracted from your goals in life?  You set your heart on achieving a certain goal and something interesting comes along and off you run – the poor little pup is chasing the hare again – unless of course he is distracted by a red herring – see below!

Of course the journey may be interesting.  You may learn new things and find new directions.  But you certainly don’t achieve your goal.

Beyond the brief summary, there really wasn’t any reason to continue on about scenario planning and it certainly was not becoming more simple.

So now it is back to living the mission!

As for the second point, I need to learn from my customers/readers.  No point at all in going on delivering something that my readers don’t want to read.

Message, if you want to stay in business listen to your customers and stay focussed on what they tell you they want.  Make it your mission!

Note: The term “red herring” probably originates from an article published 14 February 1807 by journalist William Cobbett in the polemical Weekly Political Register. In a critique of the English press, which had mistakenly reported Napoleon’s defeat, Cobbett recounted that he had once used a red herring to deflect hounds in pursuit of a hare, adding “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.” Courtesy of Wikipedia

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Not Another Version of Wonderland – Scenario Planning Part 2 (wisewolftalking.com)
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

 

>Learn from the past but look to the future – getting ready to make your choices

>

 

My old school motto was Respice Prospice – learn from the past but look to the future.  A great motto but you need to make sure your time looking backwards is well balanced by your time spent looking forwards.

You need to know when to flip your thinking forward and begin to find your choices

I spent more than 30 years as a Civil Servant.  But I can truly say I felt like a teenager when I left!  I was anxious about the future.  But I was excited about the possibilities as well.

Once I got over the shock of not being allowed to go on doing what I had chosen to do, it was like being in a room with a lot of doors.  But the door I had come through was very firmly shut behind me.  It takes a while to come to terms with that and for me it felt very strange!

As I began to peep though some of the other doors, it began to be exciting.  I was free to make a choice!
Well not completely free.  I had financial responsibilities and I did have commitments I shared with my other half! There were other constraints as well of course!  As a friend of mine remarked, it really was much too late take up brain surgery.

But provided I could generate a certain level of income and was prepared to stay in South London, I had a lot of choice.  It was like being a teenager again and time to think about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life.

That was four years ago and the economic climate has changed a lot since then.  But when you are ready to start exploring you will be surprised by how many choices you still have.

Getting to find and make your choices can be quite a challenge.

When you feel you have been forced out of what you chose to do, the temptation is dwell on the negative parts of the past!  That can get in the way of finding your opportunities.

You ruminate on why it happened and how it could have been different.  Sometimes you can become quite obsessed with finding someone to blame. That process can be peculiarly satisfying! In some ways it’s comforting because it is a way of standing still and staying where you are! But it is comfort based on a fantasy and being angry takes a toll on you physically and mentally, as well as on those about you!

You can’t change the past but you can change the way you think about it.  If you’ve started work on your star stories, then you have some very good things to remember.  Try to concentrate of them and make a determined effort not to ruminate on the negative!

Now here you are, and I’m telling you, you can mould your future!  And you need to flip your thinking forwards! But how do you do it?

Well, you may find this recommendation from Ann Lewis useful
“In her book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams PhD has a really useful model that she calls the Choice Map.  You can download it from her site. My clients find it really helpful when they’re dealing with difficult situations at work.”
The Choice Map will help you to start focussing on the road ahead and where you might want it to lead.
When you do start to think about your options – here are a few thoughts from me
1.    Don’t let age limit your thinking – people have gone off in all kinds of new directions before you. It might be too late to be a brain surgeon but there are still lots of interesting and worthwhile things ahead of you.  

2.    People do all kinds of things after leaving the Civil Service in mid-life.  One my former junior managers is now a barrister!  He didn’t start his legal training until his late forties!  Some former colleagues have trained as paramedics, opened shops or become complementary therapists. Others have opted for a portfolio career as non-executive directors and project and programme reviewers. Guess what, I know one person who signed up with an agency to work as a film extra!

3.    Don’t make assumptions about what your spouse/partner and your family want you to do.  Talk to them about the change.  You might be very surprised by how they see what is happening and how they are prepared to work with you to establish your new life.

4.    Be open-minded about possibilities.  When I left the Civil Service I was invited to an interview for a role that I thought was ‘below me’ and completely unsuitable.  I went along to the interview for experience.  When I got there I found the job was going to be challenging and the people were great. I took the work!

5.    Be prepared to be flexible and possibly mix and match. Many people these days have portfolio careers.  I’m afraid the days of secure employment until retirement are no more.  So your security will come from your experience, skills and training. If you are prepared to put the work in, they could still take you to a series of different roles – each one building on the last.  Or maybe you could combine a number of part- time roles – I combine being a consultant, coach and blogger with sometimes working as an interim manager!

6.    Be prepared to consider training or re-training for a role you really want, or for work available in your area.

7.    Expect working in new sectors to be different!  But remember different doesn’t necessarily mean worse, it just means you need to be prepared to get used to it. 

8.    When you need it, be prepared to ask for help.  There is lots of help out there.  If you are lucky enough to be working with a coach then you know you have support.  Help will come from friends and family.  And we will be identifying other kinds of help here on our tips and resources page.  In the meantime if you have a question, get in touch and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.
I hope all this helps. I would love to have your comments and your thoughts on your own experience.  If you have tips and observations to pass onto others please let us have them by email (wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.netor in the comments below.


Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net or ring ++44(0)7867681439
You can find her business blog at www.wisewolftalking.com  

Leading Change – Not Another Version of Wonderland – Scenario Planning Part 2

The White Rabbit in a hurry

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” Alice in Alice in Wonderland!

In scenario planning, scenarios provide a way to think about the uncertain aspects of the future particularly those that seem most unsettled and worrying.

Building and using scenarios can help organisations explore what the future might look like and the likely challenges of living in it.

As I explained in my last post a scenario is a story that describes a possible future. But no one view of the future will be correct. So scenario builders create sets of scenarios. These scenarios address the same questions and include everything that is likely to persist from the present into the future.

Each scenario describes a different way that the future might play out.

Scenarios are based on educated guesses and intuition and they need to be supported with very good information and strong analysis!  They are very carefully crafted structures.

But they are written as stories so that they can make that future seem vivid and compelling.  Without that, the real value in determining how the organisation might respond will be lost!

Using graphics, images and illustrations makes scenarios more comprehensible. They are particularly useful when the scenario needs to contain a lot of complex statistical information.

Scenarios  are not predictions – they are a way of dealing with uncertainty but no one has a crystal ball.  Factors will change!   But they provide a way to have a conversation about the future at strategic level.

Scenarios are a way to consider the potential implications of different events.  They mean teams can think through possible responses.

They provide a great way to get a group in the same room and using the same language.  This can be for a possible future or to help with thinking in a common way about current events.

Scenarios support a positive conversation about how to deal with future uncertainties and for making more successful strategic decisions

In my last post I mentioned that Shell has used scenario planning for quite a while! Well they have produced ‘Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide’ for people who would like to build and use scenarios, and also for those who want to enhance their scenario thinking skills.  I will be providing a very simple guide to scenario planning here on Friday.  But if you wish, you can download the Shell guide at this link.

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning Part 1 (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (threeminds.organic.com)
  • Scenarios: mapping the possible (cognitive-edge.com)
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

>Helpful Tips and Resources

>

Today, I’ve added a new page to LTPS (Leaving the Public Sector).

“Helpful Tips and Resources”

In due course, that is where you will find tips and links to documents, books and websites that we hope will help you.
There is not much there at present.  But would you please have a look and give me your views.

What would you like to see added?

With your contributions, I hope we will be adding a lot more to it over the coming weeks.   

If you have tips or links, books etc you think might be useful for other people, please email information to me  at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net  .  A short introduction to your recommendation will be very much welcomed.

If you would like something on a particular subject added then just comment here.

All thoughts and contributions will be gratefully received

I’m waiting to hear from you!


Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@leavingthepublicsector.net or ring ++44(0)7867681439
You can find her business blog at www.wisewolftalking.com  

Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning

Image via CrunchBase

Every successful change programme starts with a vision of the future.  But where is your vision going to come from, when the pace of change is continuing to increase?

Scenarios are now widely used by governments, businesses and voluntary organisations to help them plan for the future. This can be done on a large or small scale; as part of a wider planning exercise or on their own as a way to develop thinking inside the organisation.

Scenarios are not simply snapshots but fully fleshed out stories of potential futures.  Each is researched in detail to allow the reader to fully imagine themselves in this future world and consider how they would respond.

Scenario Planning was first used by the Rand Corporation in 1948.

By the 1970s the technique had been further developed and was being used by the Royal Dutch Shell Company.

As faith in traditional planning tools weakened, interest in scenario planning grew stronger.

Both Sam Palmisano at IBM and Steve Jobs at Apple have used scenario planning successfully to help their companies deal with global change and uncertain futures.

Many organisations plan for the future or, at least, for a future that they believe or hope will happen.  Usually, this future is based on ‘best’ or ‘worst’ case projections of current trends.  And surprise, surprise, it often bears an uncanny resemblance to the present state;

  • Customers will continue to do and think as they do now!
  • They will make similar choices to the ones they make now!
  • Supply chains will stay the same!
  • Competitors will offer similar products and services!

So the organisation itself will continue to do more or less the same as it does now!

This approach works best in stable, predictable environments!  But for most of us now, that stable and predictable environment no longer exists!.  We are all facing greater uncertainty and experiencing more change than ever before.

We need an approach that helps us to

  • Make sense of what is going on,
  • Spot new trends and events
  • Prepare for that uncertain future
  • Make changes to what we do and how we work  ,

Scenarios are a tool that we can use to help us imagine and manage the future more effectively.

The scenario process highlights the principal drivers of change and the uncertainties facing organisations today!  It explores how they might play out in the future.

The result is a set of stories that offer alternative views of what the future might look like.

Through discussion, they allow us to explore what we would do differently in each scenario.  Then we can identify success criteria, consider new ways of working and define new relationships.

With each scenario, the factors, and how we might respond to them, will differ!  But we can practice what we might do and begin to plan for it!

The discussion about scenarios can help groups build a shared understanding of how to respond to the increasingly complex changes taking place in the world about us.

The great strength of scenario planning is that it can be used to look at today’s challenges from a different perspective. The process of identifying and examining how current factors and trends might play out in the future helps us focus on the likely impact of those trends on our own organisations.

Quite often, participants find that the impacts are going to be bigger and happen sooner than they had realised.

Ultimately, we can use scenario planning to help anticipate, prepare for or manage change.

I’m going to consider this theme further this week.  But if you have experience of scenario planning and its impact on your organisation, can you share it here please so that others can benefit

Related articles

  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (threeminds.organic.com)
  • Rehearsing the future [Guy Rigby] (ecademy.com)
  • 4 reasons why an increased pace of change means greater unpredictability (rossdawsonblog.com)
  • 1o Ways to be Better at Visioning (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Kotter Model Step 3: Create a Vision for Change (wisewolftalking.com)
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439


STAR stories make you a star

STAR stories make you a star

STAR stories – If you want to find work, directly employed or as a contractor, you are going to need to describe your achievements so far. Getting ready to do that can be a real boost to your self confidence, if you go about it in the right way.
Writing STAR stories is a great way to prepare not only to write your CV but also to answer questions at interview.  This will be particularly important if the organisation you want to join, or contract with, is committed to competency based interviewing  or wants evidence of what you have done so far!  Your STAR stories help to provide evidence of just how competent you are.
But preparing your STAR stories can also be a real boost to your self confidence, particularly if you are going through a difficult period at work.
Read more here

Building Your Portfolio – STAR Stories Make You a Star!

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Tom Hanks walk of fame star  Hollywood Boulevard

I hope that we are going to provide you with lots of resources here to help you move into your new life, including advice on writing your CV.  

If you want to find work, directly employed or as a contractor, you are going to need to describe your achievements so far. Getting ready to do that can be a real boost to your self confidence, if you go about it in the right way.

Writing STAR stories is a way to prepare not only to write your CV but also to answer questions at interview.  This will be particularly important if the organisation you want to join, or contract with, is committed to competency based interviewing  or wants evidence of what you have done so far!  Your STAR stories help to provide evidence of just how competent you are.

But preparing your STAR stories can also be a real boost to your self confidence, particularly if you are going through a difficult period at work.

Writing your stories

The STAR method means that for each of your major achievements you will set out the;
  • S – Situation, the background – when where, who and why
  • T – Task or tasks, you need to be specific here – exactly what were you required to do and what was the required outcome?
  • A – Action, what you did and what skills you used, how you behaved
  • R – Result – Outcome, what happened – what were the benefits and how could you measure them?   How did the organisation respond?
People like hearing a well told story.  And telling your stories well will ensure you are memorable for the right reasons; so long as they are not too long, they remain positive and they are realistic!

You will not put all detail from your STAR stories into your CV, but it really helps to remind yourself of the past.

At this stage I want you to go right back to the beginning of your career. 
  1. Use your laptop or simply get a notebook and note down all the good things you have achieved. We are talking here about your personal successes
  2. Don’t spend time on the things that you don’t feel good about!  But a whole programmeor initiative doesn’t have to have been a success for your part of it to be something you are proud of!  
  3. Now pick at least 10 achievements across your career. It will help you later if you include at least five from the more recent past.  But there is no limit to how many STAR stores you can produce.
  4. For each achievement, write a STAR story, setting out what happened and clearly explaining your contribution.
  5. Of course you can write as much or as little as you like about each success.  But at this stage about one page of A4 for each is usually sufficient.
  6. Start with your early achievements and work forward. 
  7. Do your research if necessary about times, places and events.  You are building a portfolio to be proud of so make sure your stories are accurate!
  8. After you have completed each story take a pause and review!  Enjoy your success.  When you have completed five lay them out before them and feel proud – I bet you had forgotten how good your were!   
  9. When you are ready, type them up and print them out on good quality paper!  
  10. Put them in a folder with your name on the front!  

You have begun – your portfolio has its foundations.

By the way STAR stories don’t have to be confined to paid employment.  Have you had a voluntary role? Are there things you have done for your local community?  Well write the stories and put them in!  They will all serve to show just what a valuable and competent person you really are!

And I would love to hear how you get on.  
Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason
@wisewolfcoaching.com