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Join Me for Speed Mentoring Tonight on Brazen Careerist

Happy Thursday!

Brazen CareeristTonight, I’ll be one of the featured coaches attending Brazen Careerist’s Speed Mentoring Event on Network Roulette. Come meet with me and 13 other career and life coaches and get some quick advice in a virtual chat room tonight (Thursday, January 20, 2011) from 8PM to 9PM ET.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brazen Careerist, you should be. It’s one of the best online communities for people who are trying to be the best they can professionally and personally. On Brazen Careerist, I have exchanged ideas and made mutually beneficial connections, including a key business partner. Brazen Careerist was one of the top sites I mentioned in my career management workshop with Teach for America second year corps members in New York City. The site is great for people of all ages, but the connections and discussions are critical for entry-level professionals.

How does Network Roulette work? During a Network Roulette, you’ll be randomly matched with someone for three minutes where you can chat and determine if you can mutually help each other on a topic. I’ve participated in many Network Roulette events and met fellow entrepreneurs, client leads, and other awesome professionals. During the Speed Mentoring event tonight, you’ll be randomly matched with one of the coaches (hopefully, me!) and you can ask any question you want. You’ll also receive our contact information after you meet us so you can follow-up after the event. Three minutes seems quick, but I’ve learned you can get a lot done in a quick interaction. (However, it’s always a good idea to prepare your career questions before you start.)

Finally, as part of this great event, I am also giving one hour of free coaching to a lucky attendee. So come join us! To register, RSVP directly with Brazen Careerist.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

3 Steps to a Great Elevator Pitch: Hi, My Name is Tracy!

Elevator pitches have come up several times in the last two weeks, including in Twitter chats, an email exchange with a potential client, and in my career management workshop for Teach for America corps members. For the uninitiated, an elevator pitch is the 15 to 30 second pitch you would give to someone you met on a short elevator ride. The pitch covers how and why this person can help you, whether it’s for your career, business, or something else.

In reality, it’s unlikely that you’ll have such a short time to talk with someone when you’re at a networking event, the most common place an elevator pitch is used. It’s more important that when you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’re prepared to start strong and then continue an engaging conversation about what you have to offer.

Here are my three tips on how to make your elevator pitch as strong as it possible for networking events.

1. Know the answers to these six elevator pitch prompts.

Great elevator pitches finish these statements in a compelling way.

1. I am a… (professional role)
2. I currently…. (seek employment, seek clients, happily employed)
3. I specialize in (how I solve problems)…
4. I am the best (what are my results)…
5. I do it because…
6. I want you to and I will in return…

Review the prompts above and write one-sentence answers to each one, getting very specific and short (think of them like tweets).  Pay attention to prompts 3 through 5 because they are what will always make you unique. In particular, think about why you do what you do- this is the most personal of all the prompts. We’ve talked about the importance of knowing why you do things a few times on this blog.

In case it still seems abstract, here are some ways that I would answer these prompts as Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project.

3. Specialize: I specialize in helping young professionals build their soft skills and use social media to accelerate their job search.

4. Results: I’ve helped my clients clarify their goals, get jobs quickly and confidently, and learn new skills they will use throughout their careers.

5. Why: I started my company after working in K-12 education reform for 13 years and seeing that my work was meaningless because our higher education system is broken. Most young people graduate from college unprepared for careers and adulthood and I wanted to do something about it. (Yes, I know this is over 140 characters, but it’s important!)

2. Try out combinations of the prompts that work for you and the events you attend.

Even if you kept your answers to 140 characters or less for each prompt, that’s a long introduction. You want to put together short combinations of the prompts for elevator pitches that can be used in different situations. You can then incorporate the other prompts in your ongoing conversation as they become relevant.

For example, if I was attending a business networking event with small business owners from various industries who “know the drill,” I’d get right to the point and start with a Prompt 1, 2, 6 combo.

– “Hi! My name is Tracy Brisson. I am the Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, and I provide career coaching and recruitment consulting services, focusing on young professionals. I am always looking for new clients and interesting projects. If you know anyone who needs help getting closer to achieving their career goals, I appreciate referrals. Tell me about your company and what you’re looking for from this event?”

However, if I was attending an event with people who were interested in social change and educational inequities, I’d do a Prompt 1, 3, 5 punch.

-“Hi! My name is Tracy Brisson. I am the Founder and CEO of The Opportunities Project, and I provide career coaching and recruitment consulting. I specialize in helping young professionals build their soft skills and use social media to accelerate their job search. I left my job in recruitment and K-12 education because I felt my work was meaningless when I realized large numbers of our students were graduating from college without the skills they need to participate in today’s economy.”

As powerful as the second pitch may read, it would likely not go over well at every event. Some people may feel like I was preaching to them to about education when they just want to create a relationship because we both own a local business. If they are not regularly tuned into education issues, they may spend so much time thinking about my “why” that they don’t think about my “what.” As a business owner seeking new clients and relationships, that would be a loss for me. However, as the conversation went on, someone may ask what I did before I startedmy own business and I could include my “why” in that context, still making me memorable. I could also include stories that reflect my results.

What combinations might work for you?

3. Practice, practice, practice.

How you say your elevator pitch will matter as much or even more than what you say. Practice your combinations until you feel confident and comfortable introducing yourself with them. You will find out what words and inflections come natural to you. If you don’t have to think about the specific words, you will sound more enthusiastic and be able to listen and be present with the people you are connecting to at the event. This will increase the odds that you’ll make new, productive relationship, which is your goal.

Questions? Feedback? Leave them in the comments. Happy networking!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

LinkedIn Raves and Rants

LinkedInTonight is my second workshop on LinkedIn since I started The Opportunities Project this summer. Is LinkedIn really that important that it deserves two workshops so close together? Yes, it absolutely does. LinkedIn is the future of how people build careers, especially for those of us who are not born into huge networks or attend schools that naturally facilitate those. In 2011, LinkedIn is updating their platform so that more people can directly connect with their network around work and jobs. Now is the time to build your network so it’s strong for when that happens.

So I have both a rant and rave about LinkedIn coverage online.

Power of Your Network

Let’s start with a rave. Here is a real-life example of how the power of LinkedIn can get you results. When I was starting out this spring, I met a great partner in Brooke Allen. Brooke runs an organization called No Shortage of Work– a group I recommend on my Resources page. As an experiment, he asked people he knew from No Shortage of Work and his other networks to connect via LinkedIn to three people he selected who had various career goals. Within 24 hours, each had over 500 new professional contacts and within ten days one was working in a new job. He has now been sending summaries of what other people have to offer and what people need and letting them connect on their own. This success wouldn’t have manifested without a platform like LinkedIn.

Power of a Complete Profile

So my rant. I am getting exhausted by LinkedIn articles that keep getting promoted on sites like SmartBrief that give incomplete advice. I am cranky because I have become obsessed with finding these articles and commenting on them – here and here – to add needed information and it takes time I could spend on other things. Not everyone knows a Brooke Allen meaning you really need to make sure your profile is maximized to get the connections you need. Despite all the bells and whistles, LinkedIn is essentially a database and you need to create a profile that is easily found. If you read an article that doesn’t say the number one thing you should do is to make sure that your profile is complete- yes, that means posting a photo- it is not worth your time and you should move along. LinkedIn officially states that complete profiles are found 40% more often in search results than incomplete profiles, but that doesn’t even take into consideration where you rank. For example, I am listed as one of the first ten career coaches in NYC when you search for that phrase because I’ve optimized my profile. Not bad for a brand new coach. Where do you come up?

Discussing whether you should make your job duties bullet vs. paragraphs is great, but if you can’t be found, who cares?

If you’re in NYC, come to our event tonight at 7PM at SLC Conference Centers (352 7th Avenue, 16th floor- cross street is 30th Street) to learn how you can take the next step with LinkedIn. Friends of The Opportunities Project can pay $10 at the door.

Cocktail and Career Tour Starts This Week!

I’m about to hit another first milestone in my business this week: hosting my own events! Starting September 14, 2010, I will be having a series of FREE Cocktail and Career happy hours. I really liked just talking with people at the Working NYC event we participated in this summer and want to model these events after that experience. People should feel free to come and just talk with me about any career issues they are facing over a drink at any of the four happy hours. Many of the bars where we are having these events are offering us specials and are excited to be helping people with their careers. We are also holding bar tab raffles for people who Like our Facebook page.

Setting up these events was very interesting for me. In my last job, Isomeone else set set up evnts and she was awesome at it. One thing I knew was that I was definitely NOT awesome at it, so I asked for help from one of my former students to scope out space. I taught fourth and sixth grade in Washington Heights in the late 90s and have stayed in touch with many of my former students who are now in their early 20s and pursuing their own careers. One of my amazing former sixth graders, Glendy, is now a grown-up student at Lehman College and volunteered to come out and try out places and be in some pictures to document our adventure. We saw about six bars and together we settled on The Village Pourhouse, The Copper Door Tavern, and Thunder Jackson’s (not pictured).

Here are the details on the events.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 4:30 to 6:30 PM @ The Village Pourhouse

982 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10025

If you have a Columbia University ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 4:30 to 6:30 PM @ The Copper Door Tavern

272 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

If you have a Baruch College ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Saturday, September 18, 2010, 1:00 to 4:00 PM @ The Copper Door Tavern

272 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

EVERYONE who Likes our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).

Monday, September 20, 2010, 6:00 to 8:00 PM @ Thunder Jackson’s

169 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012

If you have a NYU College ID and Like our Facebook page, you will be entered into a raffle to have your tab paid for the night (up to $25).