How to pull career confidence out of thin air

Career Confidence

Career Confidence

//Photo Courtesy: paperchat on Etsy//

If you haven’t already noticed, confidence in your profession is a highly sot after commodity. Why else would Queen Bey sing about it? The only problem: So many amazing women lack confidence when communicating about their career, especially in the first couple years. I learned the other day that the number one fear in America is public speaking. Number one! This made me realize just how much fear can affect the opportunities we may have, but how we feel about them.

Truly, in order to feel confident you must let go of fear.

This becomes especially problematic for us career gals who are constantly coming up against scary road blocks. Interviews and networking events, while beneficial, can be terrifying at the time. For these instances, I recommend getting a hefty dose of what I like to call, “career” confidence.  And while most of us twenty-somethings haven’t built up a strong level of confidence based on a heavy portfolio of work experience, we still want advance our careers.

So are we just supposed to pull confidence out of thin air? The short answer: YES, we are. Developing confidence early on in your career will get us where we want to be faster. And who doesn’t love the sound of that?

Here are some confidence boosters you’ll be able to control no matter where you’re at in your career.

 

Start typing sweetheart because there’s research to be done.

In school I always had anxiety about taking tests. Even if I was comfortable with the subject matter, I still never felt confident. There are moments in your career where this feeling may rear it’s ugly head. Maybe it’s when you’re giving presentation to your team or when you’re on a job interview. So if you’re less-than-confident in your ability, focus on being more-than-confident in your preparation.

I remember how drastically different I felt when I walked into tests I had really prepared for. I still felt nervous, but at the end of the day I knew the material. When you’re in a job interview do research on the company. And that means more than looking at their website. Research the people you’ll interview with, look at examples of their work, and read up on the company in the news. If you’re giving a presentation, spend some time watching videos of other’s presenting and pay attention to their speaking style. Careful preparation and thoughtful research are the best defense you have against a lack of confidence.

 

Stroke your ego and draft a killer “About Me”. It feels good I promise.

I write content for a lot of websites, and my favorite page by far is the “About Me” page. But that page shouldn’t just live on the internet. Your real-life “About Me” if well-crafted it can make you look like a serious boss when meeting someone for the first time. The best part? You are in complete control of your story, and therefore can drive the conversation to things your most comfortable talking about. Easy rule: start talking about something that is as interesting as it is comfortable. Something people will remember that you could easily answer follow up questions about.

For example, I’m in the beginning stages of building a business and I get intimidated when I speak with more seasoned business owners about nitty-gritty financials/business plans/revenue streams etc.. I eventually want to pick their brains about those things, but I want to establish some credibility first. I’m really comfortable talking about what inspires me and how I develop my own ideas, so typically I start by saying:

“I grew up the daughter of two entrepreneurs, and I remember spending hours after school in my dad’s office or mom’s center watching them poor their hearts into running their business. I guess something stuck because ever since I graduated college I felt a tingle inside that made me want to take control of my work and build a business of my own, so I had this idea…”

That wasn’t too scary was it? It’s the ending that gets interesting. Every good “About Me” page turns it back on the reader right? Usually there’s a call-to-action button that asks the reader to sign-up, learn more, comment below, etc. Your real-life “About Me” should be no different. So start thinking about what your ‘ask’ should be.

Mine is:

“I know I have strong foundation, but am looking to change up my pricing options and grow my business. Do you have any insight on that from your own experience.”

Think about it…not only are YOU getting something valuable out of the conversation, but you just earned yourself a break from talking by throwing a question back at them. You go girl.

 

That person you’re talking to isn’t as unique as they think they are. Find common ground.

What makes a first date less awkward? Well, besides the guy refraining from saying something asinine, your best shot for good date is finding something in common to talk about. Am I right? It takes the pressure off and immediately makes you feel more confident in an otherwise uncomfortable situation.

When talking about your career with someone new, apply a similar strategy. Learn as much about them in the conversation as you can and find an area where you can relate. Maybe someone they worked with a few years ago, spoke at a panel you attended and really enjoyed. Or maybe you connect on a deeper level, like you both were inspired after reading Lean In and have similar ideas about America’s gender gap.

Try to refrain from asking rapid-fire questions in an effort to find something in common. THAT is awkward. Instead, listen thoughtfully and if something they say triggers a relatable thought, don’t be afraid to speak up and make that connection. You’ll see that finding common ground is more about listening and less about asking.

 

Fake it till you make it girl. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Case and point: Developing confidence takes time and practice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a saucy little bag of tricks up your sleeve in the meantime. Consider yourself boosted sister. Take your career confidence and start talking about yourself.

 

Start by commenting on this post! What in your career do you feel the most confident talking about?