As a graduate student, you will be asked to define yourself to those around you on a regular basis. This is where a good personal positioning statement or “elevator speech” comes in handy. It allows others to create a lasting image of who you are and your capabilities to potential employers in an effective and succinct manner.
But what makes for an effective positioning statement?
An effective positioning statement is a flexible statement you can tell people when asked the question, “So what do you do?” at a networking event, a convention or seminar, at a function, in a supermarket queue or anywhere else.
It will address three key components:
- What are your strengths? Your distinctive competencies? How can you provide value in what you are offering?
- Who is your statement positioned at? What about them means they are an ideal fit for the value you offer?
- How are you different from others in your field or industry that others will find of value? In other words, what is your unique position? Your competitive advantage?
Your positioning statement will be specific, descriptive and will convey your expertise in your field. It will spark conversations with others, allowing them to get a detailed idea of who you are and what you do, and will encourage others to remember and recommend you with confidence.
How to tailor your positioning statement to the occasion
There are three options for the focus of your position statement: YOU, IT, or THEM.
- YOU is obviously all about you, who you are, what you have done, and what are you into.
- IT is all about the activity, examples of how it has worked for someone, what it is like and maybe a few good stories about what it is you do.
- THEM is all about the outcomes i.e. what you can do for them. You may ask questions, identify the key challenges they face or even get into solutions.
You can potentially use your positioning statement in any situation from networking events when meeting people for the first time, at interviews or introducing yourself to company representatives over the phone. However, it can be generally divided into the following:
- Social Event = Personal = YOU
- Business/Professional Networking Event = What Activity You Do = IT
- Talking to a Business Prospect = Outcomes & Benefits = THEM
Ultimately, the aim of an effective positioning statement is to intrigue the listener enough to want to get you back for a more in-depth conversation. The consistency and succinct manner in which you come across enables those to whom you are addressing to remember you later on. Thus, positioning is your key to success. Positioning a unique value you offer to a niche market, in ways that are better and more effective than anyone else.
So with this in mind... What is your position?
Don’t wait until you’ve landed your first job—start networking early. Those you have met through university such as lecturers and tutors or those you have met at social events have connections that could be useful to you. They’ll be able to give you invaluable advice, feedback, and support.
Not really sure how to foster these relationships? Sign up to networking events and seminars, attend conferences - basically anything that will get you more exposure. They are a great way to meet some useful contacts. You could also talk to existing contacts or organisations where you hold membership. Don’t become another one of the 90% of graduates who don’t know how to network. Be in the 10% minority of networkers—it will give you a huge advantage.
Many people say “I already have heaps of friends and family who know some people.”Sadly, this just isn’t going to cut it. We’re not dismissing the power of friends and families. However, it’s the people furthest from you who are going to be the most helpful. We all assume our friends and family know us best. Unfortunately, that’s wrong; we only think they do. They don’t know what we really want from our careers.
The ‘Theory of Weak Ties’ tells us that the benefits from social networks are much higher when ties among people in the network are weak. They let you get away from your narrow social circle, letting you explore your options and different environments. This theory stresses that weak ties are far more effective for ‘well-educated job-seekers.’
Here’s another fun fact about weak ties: higher wages, more job satisfaction, and a closer relationship between job and university degrees are more likely to be associated with weak ties being used in finding employment.
Vanessa Gough, recruitment manager of IBM notes: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Your network is where your next role will come from, where you get support and information, and where you develop the relationships with your colleagues that will be valuable as you progress through the company.”
Maximise your opportunities by getting out there, going to seminars and functions. Go and talk to a few complete strangers—you might surprise yourself by making a new connection, it may dramatically improve your chances of landing a dream job later on. What have you got to lose?
 Caroline Parry (2010) http://www.topmba.com/articles/careers/MBA-business-networking
#1 LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a network specifically aimed at companies and business professionals to create networks of their peers. It allows you to reach 70 million professionals and many of the world’s major corporations. Through LinkedIn, you can connect with professional colleagues, meet new people, and find recommended services or new contacts in your current network. Once you know your niche, you can connect with anyone in this network if you offer value and follow proper networking strategies.
#2 Twitter - Twitter gives you the chance to communicate with others, create friendly relationships and increase awareness about your personal brand. Through Twitter you can gather and share the latest information while building relationships and network conne4ctions through following or attracting ‘followers.’ It is a communications platform that helps individuals and businesses quickly share information and build relationships with interested parties and potential connections/ employers.
#3 Facebook - Facebook acts as an alternate, more widely used platform to maintain connections with the professional world. There has been an increase in the number of professionals and firms using Facebook for recruiting purposes. It not only showcases both your personal and professional side, but is also host to Facebook Groups, allowing users to connect, discuss and network with each other around a common interest or topic.
# 4 Blogs - Blogs make people aware you exist in the world of the wide web through your interaction with the online community. It demonstrates your expertise and knowledge about certain issues, topics and concerns related to your field of interest, as well as other pursuits you may have. Through blogs, you can also hear about trends, opportunities and gain important feedback. They are accessible to people of all ages with varied lifestyles, enabling you to reach a number of groups and individuals.
Harnessing Social Media enables you to take advantage of how media consumption has changed so you can use it to establish and enhance relationships with others. It is through Social Media that enables you to find people with the same interests as you, share ideas or information and develop connections with anyone, anywhere all around the world!
LinkedIn is one of a number of on-line networking sites, and is probably the most popular for business networking. As with any other type of networking, there are tips and tricks you should be aware of when using LinkedIn. These tricks and tips are especially important to LinkedIn as it costs for someone to send you direct unsolicited messages. In this article I’ll provide my top 10 tips to help gain the most out of LinkedIn. I will focus on job seekers, however they apply equally to contractors or businesses who use LinkedIn to find customers.
The Graduate Management Association of Australia (GMAA) produces an annual rating of MBAs, designed to rate the attractiveness to potential students. We constantly review the rating system and seeing as the most current star ratings have recently been published I thought it would be worth providing an overview of rating and ranking systems, discussing some issues and benefits.
First of all, our system is a rating system rather than a ranking system. A rating is a descriptive evaluation of a very specific aspect of a university or course whereas rankings seek to assign an overall position of institutions against competitors based on overall quality.
The reason our organisation doesn’t use a ranking system is that they are notoriously flawed. Studies from Europe and America have shown that global university ranking systems are accurate in their assigned rank for only the first 15 universities. This is atrocious and means that almost every university is inaccurately ranked. We started the rating system to improve the overall MBA offerings while also providing students and third parties an objective measure of MBAs in Australia. We believe there has been improvement in quality of Australian MBAs as a direct result of the rating system.
The GMAA continually re-evaluates the methodology used to produce the ratings. This resulted in many ranking movements for no other reason than this change. Yet Many universities that improved their ranking proudly advertised the improvement.
All rating and ranking systems have the effect of forcing universities to behave in the same way. There are examples of universities taking the focus off their students. Taiwan launched a five-year $1.75 billion AUD programme allocating $350 million each year to 11 universities, hoping to push at least one university into the top 100 universities of the world within a short period of time.
In 2009, the National Taiwan University (NTU), which had received much more subsidies compared to other universities ($100 million), was able to squeeze into the top 100 for the first time and ranked number 95 in the Times rankings.
Even with Ratings, universities focus on their outcomes over student outcomes. For instance one Australian university recently proudly advised they gained 5 stars for toughness to get in while only getting 4 stars for student outcomes. The difficulty to enter a university due high demand is seen as a higher honour to some universities than the outcomes of their students.
All ratings and rankings cost money and the Australian story is also an expensive one. TheAustralian Graduate Survey (AGS) survey costs around $6-8 Million AUD, with highereducation institutions paying $150,000 to $250,000 per survey and the governmentcontributing around $500,000.