Communications Expert Kunle Orankan on How to Showcase Your Best Self to Everyone You Meet
Being able to present yourself effectively to new contacts is an essential skill all entrepreneurs should have. Whether you have 30 seconds, five minutes or an entire night, you should always have certain relevant talking points ready to discuss to showcase what makes you special. WeWork Labs mentor Kunle Orankan, founder of Orankan Resources and Training, a company dedicated to training individuals and corporations on communications, held a session all about mastering your ability to be your best self and open up critical opportunities. Here are the essential steps to follow.
Step #1: Start by writing down five things about you that aren’t stats
You need to be enthusiastic about discussing who you are, beyond simple pleasantries like where you grew up or your favorite type of music. And in order to do that, you need to have some essential qualities or things about yourself that you want to showcase to people you meet. Writing them down helps you keep them top of mind, but remember that facts about yourself won’t create real connections with people. “When I do this kind of workshop and I say to people, ‘write who you are,’ most times a lot of people write my name is Kunle, I live in Germany, I am 25 years old. They give me statistics...” this is a mistake, Orankan says.
“What's important to you? What are your deep desires? What are your experiences in life? Who are you internally?” Orankan says. These are much more powerful talking points that are likely to leave a lasting impression and allow people to remember you. Orankan recommends at least five talking points to get started.
Step #2: Ask people to describe you
You know the qualities you like about yourself and want to lead with, but you also need to understand how other people see you. “[Being] approachable basically means someone who's seen you for the first time is able to feel comfortable enough to approach you. And this is always tricky in most cases,” Orankan says. You may find it helpful to ask friends how they would describe you in a few words. If any of them describe you as unapproachable, use that as a road map to work on yourself and think about how you may be presenting yourself in a way that comes across as unapproachable. Same goes for any less than desirable descriptors that come up in your friends’ assessments. The goal is to get honest answers from your friends to help you become more self-aware.
Step #3: Consider how you can benefit the person you’re speaking to
Good relationships are a two-way street, so be sure to try to understand how you may be able to help or benefit the person you’re speaking to from a business, networking or organizational standpoint. “If someone comes across you for the first time and you make an outstanding impression across all these phases that we talked about, this person will somehow look for a way to integrate you into their business or into their lives. So that when the time comes, you are in their network,” Orankan says.
You should also be asking yourself: How would this person be useful to me in my professional or life journey? In what way will this relationship be fruitful for me? But the goal should always be to build meaningful relationships, not simply ones that are transactional.
One piece of advice: Try to speak a little bit less than you usually would to leave room for some questions—you want to leave people wanting more information from you. “If you tell me something I'm interested in, and you just give me 20 percent of the information, I'm going to come back to you to ask questions,” Orankan says. “What about this, what about that? I know me well enough. I want to know you! I want to know who I'm speaking with. I want to know how I might be of service to you.”
Step #4: Think of stories that tie everything together
Once you know your own best qualities, how people perceive you, and what you have to offer to potential contacts, focus on trying to form a story with those three points. If someone describes you as entrepreneurial, think of a story that highlights why and tie that into how this skill can help the person you’re speaking to. You should have a handful of stories for each of those five original qualities and traits you listed. “The more stories you have to support each one of those five points, the better for you,” Orankan says.
Most importantly, you should love your product, which is you, Orankan says. You have to be your own biggest fan and advocate for yourself. “Fall in love with yourself. Because if you don't love the only product you have, how are you going to sell it?”
Lastly, don’t focus too much on being humble. In fact, “Don't be humble at all,” Orankan says. “Being humble doesn't get you anything. It doesn't get you anywhere. Just be honest. Be yourself and be authentic. If you are authentic, it's easy to be liked.”
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This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.
Interested in connecting directly with this mentor? Ask your Labs Manager for help.