I was sitting between two CEOs at a swanky event where I was about to speak. One of them said to me, “I like what you’re doing in the tech space, especially helping companies compete in crowded markets.” Slightly confused, the other CEO said, “Jason, I thought you were focused on millennials and selling across generations.”
That’s when it dawned on me. They both were right, yet each had a specific, confident, differing view of my work based on only one thing: where and how they heard about me. So I went on a quest. I began asking clients, friends and social media followers what they thought I did.
The responses shocked me. Some thought I was only a speaker on millennials. Others thought I only did consulting on how to stand out in crowded markets. Several thought I still spoke in middle school gyms—something I haven’t done in many years.
That perception disconnect is happening in your life, too. But you probably never see how it holds you back until you realize you missed a perfect opportunity because someone had a misperception about you. They didn’t know your passion, talent or hunger to solve a specific problem. They didn’t know you could give a great presentation, rally the team and break down old barriers. All they knew was what they had heard or seen about you, and that narrow impression keeps your dream opportunities at bay.
It’s time to recalibrate what you love to do—and where you want to be—with opportunities you may not know exist. The following steps will help you attract those opportunities by aligning your public persona with your tremendous potential.
Step 1: Add a sentence to your LinkedIn profile describing what you’re passionate about. For example, “I’m passionate about finding new ways to solve sales problems that plague fast-growth companies.” Do the same on any public-facing site, such as your bio page on Facebook or your company’s website. Check out my passion on my LinkedIn profile—then send me an invitation, and we’ll connect to spread your influence.
Step 2: Intentionally share your passion in separate conversations three times this week. Then repeat every week. This will get you used to anchoring what you do—or want to do—in the minds of those who can influence your path. Keep in mind this is not just people you work with regularly. In fact, some of the best people to tell are those who don’t work with you, because when your area of interest becomes a conversation topic, they’ll say, “I know just the person to introduce you to!”
Step 3: Gather at least 10 interesting facts about your passion. They could include surprising data points, a funny story, a personal breakthrough or a challenge you’re working to solve. Use these facts as talking points to tantalize someone to want more. Doing so provides people just enough insight to see you in a different light and tee up the all-important “We should meet for lunch to talk about this more.”
How you see yourself is important to your self-esteem and well-being. But how others see you determines what opportunities they present to you at work and in life. I know firsthand, because when I met my wife she was only told I spoke in middle schools. She happened to be the principal of one, so we instantly had something to talk about!