For today’s post I’ve interviewed friend, colleague and fellow personal branding strategist Bernadette Martin about her new book Storytelling about Your Brand Online & Offline. The book explains how storytelling can help executives, entrepreneurs and professionals to message and strengthen their personal brand.
I had the honor of penning a chapter in the book entitled, “How to Internationalize your Bio”.
I want to thank Bernadette for taking the time to answer a few questions regarding storytelling and personal branding.
• So Bernadette, how do you define the word “story” and why are stories so powerful?
I believe a story is an expression of real and imagined experiences, crafted and woven by the storyteller in a sensory fashion. This can play out in an oral, written, visual or tactical context in a book, movie, poem, song or dance. Stories can be expressed online through vehicles like YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Second Life and more.
Stories capture and hold our attention. They are an extremely powerful form of communication because stories combine facts, figures and details with emotions, colors and imagery, creating synapses between the left and right halves of your brain. Stories not only allow us to process information and store it effectively in memory, but also, perhaps most importantly, allow us connect emotionally with another person.
• What makes a “good” story?
A story can meet the above criteria and definition and still not be a good story. Ideally, a story would have a stimulating beginning, an engaging middle, and a decisive yet compelling ending that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. A powerful and memorable story would trigger the senses and evoke emotion, creating a connection between the narrator and the listener. But it is in how the story is told and unfolds that makes it memorable.
A way to make your personal story powerful is through the use of GEMS, meaning captivating memorable “touch points” sprinkled throughout your bio or narratives that delight the listener. These can be quotes, analogies, humor, childhood memories, references to heroes, mentors, favorite authors, musicians and idols. GEMS are a way to strengthen your story’s message.
• How does storytelling factor into to the personal branding process?
Personal branding is the process of identifying, clarifying and communicating what is unique about the “Brand Called You”. Telling an effective, clear and “on brand” story is an important element of the personal branding process. Stories can make your personal brand come alive by allowing you to express your key attributes, values, passions, talents, emotional intelligence, leadership skills and accomplishments in a relevant and compelling way. One of the most important ways this is done in through your bio. Building and crafting a body of stories, both written and oral, is key to success.
• How should expats be using storytelling to support our career goals?
As professionals we are constantly telling stories to our stakeholders such as clients, partners, staff, media, the public and recruiters. This can be in interview situations, at staff meetings, dinner parties, social functions, networking events, presentations, sales meetings, even around the water cooler. For individuals in career transition, recruiters in particular are begging for good stories. The interview offers an ideal opportunity to tell some good stories and of course it usually starts with the most frequently asked question “Tell me about yourself”. You want to be able to showcase your story and provide a dynamic and engaging 3D picture of your experience and potential.
• What is 2.0 or digital storytelling?
It is no longer around the fire, huddled after a day of bison hunting, that we tell our stories. Now we can choose from countless affordable, sophisticated, and easy-to-use platforms to get our story out to the virtual world.
Digital storytelling is sharing one’s story through the multiple media of digital imagery, text, voice, sound music, and animation. Web 2.0 and technological innovations are changing the way we interact, connect and communicate. There are so many ways to connect with our target and build a relationship across media. Some of these powerful communication tools include FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.
• What is one critical thing every expat should know when using storytelling to express their brand?
I suggest finding and selecting with intention and a strategy the channels of storytelling media that you can relate to and more important, relate to your target. Storytelling is a key development skill and executives and professionals throughout organizations and across all industries. We all need to become adroit storytellers and expert at using the right tools for getting those stories to their target audience in a compelling way.
For those expats who want to learn more about storytelling to build your brand can read Bernadette’s book, Storytelling about Your Brand Online & Offline.
Megan Fitzgerald, Expat Career and Personal Branding Coach, helps expats use their personal brand to build careers and businesses to support their life abroad. Named a top 50 personal branding consultant, she’s been featured in Fortune, CNNMoney.com and WSJ Online. She writes about expat career success at: www.careerbychoiceblog.com.