One piece of advice I would offer with regard to the notion of selling yourself is to be prepared to discuss how you plan to succeed. Success rarely happens by accident, and if you were interviewing for a position within my company, the first thing I would want to know is, “Do you have a plan for being successful in this job?”
Successful people plan their work and they work their plans. They have a vision for what is required to be successful and the ability to communicate that vision to others. Even our best laid plans don’t always pan out as we had originally envisioned them, however, so the ability to make reasonable and intelligent adjustments along the way is critically important. Shooting from the hip is no longer a viable strategy in today’s business environment.
Potential employers are just like prospective customers in the sense that they want to know that you are confident in your abilities, and you have the foresight and fortitude necessary to make things happen in ways that will benefit them and you.
Even with a notable track record, we must recognize that in a competitive environment, you will rarely be the only candidate (or vendor) being considered. Other qualified candidates will also garner a serious look. Hence, the purpose of an employment interview is not just to review one’s honors and accolades from the past. The real purpose of these evaluations (job interviews or sales calls) is to give prospective customers a glimpse into the future so they can evaluate which alternative will provide the best fit in helping them achieve their goals.
In the final analysis, you must make the difference. To the extent you are able to communicate value and demonstrate that your skills are indeed aligned with the customer’s goals, you can expect a great deal of success going forward. On the other hand, if you sound just like everyone else, then you put your destiny in the hands of a coin flip at best. It’s that simple. Selling yourself during an interview or with regard to a product sale has everything to do with the customer’s perception of you.