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Want to Move Up? Here’s How Telling Your Story Can Help Make That Happen

By James G. Trela

Every organization has a constant flow of opportunities. Opportunities for those that are prepared. Opportunities for advancement, innovation, and to show what you have to offer. Are you prepared for these opportunities?
In this article we present some tools you can immediately use to begin preparing yourself for those opportunities when they present themselves.Are you ready when that next opportunity comes your way?

Your first reaction may be: “But I’m not looking for another job right now.”
That’s ok. You may not know this, but opportunities don’t wait for you.

Do you feel that you have more to offer your organization?  Does the organization know all the potential you have?  Here are three very specific techniques you can use to let organizational leadership know about what you have to offer:

  1. Internal Mentoring
  2. Internal Networking
  3. Story Preparation

Internal Mentoring
If you don’t already have a mentor within your organization, you may have one as close as your manager.  Using the Power of Acknowledgment and Grateful Leadership techniques and principles presented by Judith W. Umlas, you can build a strong, trusting relationship with your manager. This is important because you don’t want to give the perception of wanting to “jump ship”. You want to use your talents, skills, experiences, and education to help the organization move forward.  Have discussions with your manager, bounce ideas off them and see where things go from there. This is a great way to test your ideas and see if they would be feasible in the organization.

Internal Networking
Once you have a trusting relationship with your manager, you can ask them if there is anyone else in the organization that can give you a different perspective on your ideas.  If the manager believes there is someone, then ask for an introduction. Introductions are the best way to get someone’s attention.  Even if you already know the person to whom the manager is going to introduce you, ask them to introduce you anyway.  The introduction will give the person another perspective on you and your abilities that they may never have known or considered before. This will build curiosity in the other person and give them a reason to want to speak to you.

Story Preparation
Everyone loves a story. A story makes a point memorable. Why not use this when you talk to someone about your ideas?

Story preparation is a key to being prepared when talking to someone about your experience and ideas. You do this through the intentional review of your career so far, finding those times you are proud of, times where you really stood out. Then document them.  Actually, write them down. This is important because you want to be able to bring the story up quickly and with confidence. Find at least one or two for each position you have held in the past. Review these stories regularly, along with the scenario around which the story took place. This will give you perspective on the story and where it will be applicable when speaking to people, which might just lead to the next great opportunity for you!

Summary
Let me give you an example. My daughter, Christi, is attending culinary school and is looking for a way to get some applicable experience. Last week, she was talking to one of her friends (networking), and her friend told her of a person in our town that runs a pastry shop and is looking for an assistant. Christi’s friend passed her name and number along. One evening, Christi got a text from a person at the pastry shop asking about her experience. Christi went to one of her mentors, (her father), and told of her dilemma, that she didn’t have experience.  The mentor gave her perspective: she had already passed her baking and pastry courses at the culinary school with flying colors. She has also decorated the cakes for many family functions. Christi smiled and confidently texted that back to the person from the pastry shop.  That response got her the interview.

Now, my daughter has very little experience, and this worked for her. I have used this technique to move to other positions in my current company. My story list now comprises of about eight typed pages and continues to grow. If you use these three techniques, many doors can open for you.

 Note: The views expressed here are those of the author and not those of General Motors.


James G. Trela

PMP, MBA, MS-IST, CGLP-L1; Chief of Staff in GM IT’s Corporate Staffs Organization. Trela has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, an MBA, and a Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology along with over 30 years of Information Systems and Technology experience.  Trela received IIL’s Acknowledgment Ambassador Award in 2018 and achieved the Certified Grateful Leadership Professional – Level 1 certification in 2019.

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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