Recap (February 28, March 14 and 28, 2019) Storytelling, Networking, and LinkedIn

March was a crazy month with being co-chairing a conference in Asia and then going on vacation. I’m very sorry for the delay getting the recordings out to you. Here are the last three webcasts:

On Stories… All stories comprise 3 parts:

  1. The Hook – set the time, place and circumstances; establish the conflict, contrast or contradiction
  2. Challenge and Change – the longest part of the story; describe the main journey and what happened at the end, what changed/was different at the end
  3. A Clear Theme – think of this part as your answer to “So what?”; what’s the purpose of your story, what are you trying to illustrate to your audience

A related element to a clear theme is how you choose to end your story: open-ended or closed. Use an open ending if you wish to engage your audience in a discussion or to solicit their insights. Use a closed ending if you want to drive home a point and avoid any ambiguity regarding the message of your story.

There are 5 basic plots in business communication:

  1. Origin Story – founder’s story, or how a person, business, idea, product, service, platform, movement or opportunity came to be
  2. Rags to Riches (variation: David vs. Goliath) – challenging beginning with circumstances stacked against individual, but surprises everyone with a dramatic turnaround
  3. Rebirth – this is about second chances, redemption
  4. Overcoming the Monster – any overt or covert entity or situation that can threaten survival of some sort or thwart someone from reaching an important goal
  5. The Quest – stories about reaching an inspiring goal; aiming for a seemingly unattainable prize; doesn’t have to begin from a point of challenge; in fact, many are enjoying a good life, but are not content with the status quo and strive for something bigger

In a recent blog post, Esther Choy talks about how to utilize 3 of these plots in presentations.

In the chat room, one of you asked whether it was a good approach to tell multiple nested stories when communication one’s value; in other words, telling a story inside of another story. Esther’s advice is “No.”

Because audiences tend to have fairly short attention spans, it’s best to avoid nested stories. Instead, I encourage people to follow the National Speakers Association’s advice: tell a story, then present the main point. Then another story. Then the main point. Story. Point. Story. Point. The different stories should all illustrate the same main point.

For more on how to Let The Story Do The Work, visit Leadership Story Lab.

In our conversation on networking or, as I prefer to say, “building relationships,” Ngee Key Chan challenged us to evaluate our mindset when we approach networking: do we see it as a transaction to get something from the other person or as an opportunity to give first? Ngee Key advises approaching networking from a mindset of giving first in order to create a strong and authentic relationship with the other person.

To learn more about networking strategies, visit (this subscription is provided through Gies Online Programs).

Finally, when it comes to using LinkedIn to advance your career, Hannah Morgan suggests 4 different tactics:

  1. Create an engaging profile, especially your headline and summary. In your headline, do not rely on the default job title from your current job. Say more than “MBA Candidate” in your headline. Instead, state what you can do, what skills you bring or what industry/functions you are targeting. In your summary, elaborate on your skills and accomplishment. Target your summary to the function and industries are are aiming to get into.
  2. Turn on your Career Interests to be visible to recruiter. Let recruiters know that you are actively seeking. Use the given text box to share a note with recruiters.
  3. Include a personalized note when inviting others to connect with you. Make this a habit, even when you know the individual.
  4. Make one post (not merely “Like” someone else’s post) each day to increase your visibility in LinkedIn. Increasing the frequency of your posts increases your ranking in LinkedIn. However, do not get carried away with multiple posts in a day as that will annoy your followers. Keep your posts relevant to your brand or target industry/function.

In the chat room, someone asked about whether international students should write a note to recruiters about their status, informing recruiters that they are open for offers. Hannah offers the following advice:

…adding something about H1-B Visa or even STEM in their “Note to Recruiter” within the Open To New Opportunities section (under Career Interests) sounds like the best place for this.

I know a student who didn’t even mention needing sponsorship until the end of the interviewing process, when the hiring manager asked her. It wasn’t a deal breaker at all. The company typically doesn’t sponsor, but they made an exception for her. So, I lean towards not stating anything on LinkedIn and bring it up during the interview when asked. Once they love the student’s skills, they are more likely to want to jump through hoops for sponsorship….(fingers crossed).

Visit for video tutorials on maximizing LinkedIn for your career. You may also want to enroll in the MBA LinkedIn Intensive found on the left hand menu bar under Focus Programs. (If you have difficulty accessing the videos from the URL provided above, please go to then click on Beyond B-School Career Mgmt Videos.)

Additional resources:

I am trying to edit a recording we did with MBA 2013 alum Sarah Zigman who now works with LinkedIn. In the video, she demos how recruiters use LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions platform when sourcing for candidates. The demo provides good insights into how you should update your Career Interest section within LinkedIn so that it is aligned with how recruiters search for candidates. I will upload that video to this site once it is ready to be shared.

Please join me on Thursday, April 18 for our final career development webcast when I speak with Jenny Rae of Management Consulted about Interviewing for Fit.

Thank you.

Jerome Ng,

Recap (January 31, 2019) – Personal Branding: Why You Need One and How to Go About Building One (Part 2)

Here are Michael’s responses to questions from the chatroom that we did not get to during our interview. Please let me know if you have follow up questions.

How is personal branding role specific?

Personal branding is YOU specific. When you’re fulfilling a certain role, you only release the pieces of your personal brand that are required for that role. Your brand shouldn’t change often. It will evolve over time as your skills, talents, and experiences allow you to express deeper parts of yourself in new ways, but most of what makes you authentic will remain the same.

Is personal branding similar to writing what you would write in your resume where you try to sell yourself to a potential employer?  Is there any room in personal branding to discuss your weaknesses or is it all about selling your strengths?  I always feel like there’s never enough emphasis placed on where we fall short as professionals – it’s all about knowing strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, your personal brand statement could be utilized at the top of a resume, in LinkedIn’s summary, and in your bio. In my definition of a personal brand, there is room for the areas you’re purposely developing. But, you wouldn’t write your weaknesses down and use them to sell yourself. I would suggest only sharing the areas you’re working to develop when you’re asked to (in interviews, with a hiring manager, etc.), with accountability partners, and your personal board of directors. It takes a truly humble, knowledgeable, and emotionally intelligent person to openly share what he or she is working to be better at. I encourage you to display your vulnerabilities, but do so in a way that adds credibility to your brand.

How do you maintain a personal brand when you don’t have a lot of “brand assets”? — when your career hits a dead end, when your company is unheard of, etc. How do you embody a positive, intriguing brand when you’re a bit stuck?

Your personal brand is an aggregation of your (1) communication profile, (2) motivators, (3) values, (4) strengths, and (5) life’s experiences. When you find the themes in these five “assets”, you can write a personal mission, 3-year goals, and a 3-5 sentence brand statement that will sell you without recent career wins. You may also consider creating wins through volunteering with your favorite nonprofit, joining a professional association and helping them with projects, offering your skills complimentary to a small business in exchange for a recommendation, reaching out to your networking and collecting as many LinkedIn recommendations as possible, or launching your own website explaining more about you. More importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Even if they appear to be successful, I promise you they’re going through challenging things they’re unwilling to share. This temporary slow time in your life is preparing you for something bigger than you can currently comprehend.

We recently had a survey asking group members to rate other person on 1. how easy to work with this person? 2. Does this person respond quickly to requests? 3. Is this person easy to get engaged to solve issues? 4. Dose this person always deliver on commitments?  Wondering do those questions connect to personal branding?

I see this as being linked to one component of a person’s brand. I believe it’s most closely connected to someone’s thinking, behavioral, and communication preferences (#1 in my answer to the previous question), but not strongly correlated to their personal mission or goals.

What is the role of color in a personal brand?

I dive into this topic on the third episode of my podcast, listen to it here. Consider reading this website for another look at how color affects human decision making. After you’ve uncovered your personal values and written your mission, it’d be fun to look at the meaning of different colors and choose two that most closely correlate with how you want people to know you. Can you find ways to infuse those colors into your wardrobe, resume, LinkedIn, website, business cards, social media posts, etc. The more you use the color, the more people around you associate you with the meaning of that color.

How do you (can you) tie your brand to your company/team brand?

Do your core values align with the company’s values? Is your personal mission somehow connected to the organization’s mission? Is your personal brand similar to the organization’s value proposition? If yes, find ways to openly talk about the connection. Draw the connection via posts on social media. Write blogs that talk about why you love working for the employer. Wear clothing with the organization’s logo. Join a board of directors and tell others why your mission aligns with the nonprofit’s mission. Host a dinner series and invite like-minded people to the dinner. As much as possible, talk about it in person and online. The connection between your and the organization’s brand will grow quickly.

I always struggle with polarities and the need to categorize us. This is one of the things that I find most difficult in branding. Everyone wants to put you in a box and identify you with… when our real talent is about synthesizing—and in multiple contexts.

I feel the same. Differences should be celebrated, not hidden or categorized. Thankfully, the voices of the people who loved to place other people in boxes are rapidly shrinking. They’re being replaced by the emotionally-developed people who see how diversity creates balanced, stronger, engaged, and more productive teams. If you follow the process in my answer to question #3 above, it’ll be awfully difficult for anyone to place you in a box. I think it’s impossible for any other person to have your communication profile, motivators, values, strengths, and life’s experiences. The more you share this uniqueness, the less they can place you in a box.