In the last week it occurred to me what a terrible job professionals do marketing themselves. Developing your personal brand and communicating your value proposition is key to success. Everything we do is tied back to sales, whether it is convincing your signifiant other to go to a steakhouse vs. an Italian restaurant or convincing your boss that you are worth a raise.
Don’t just take my word for it, here is what people much smarter than me have to say:
If you want to build a relationship, if you want to get referrals, you have to become known…
– Jeffrey Gitomer
Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand.
– Tom Peters, Fast Company
Here is the deal, if you want to grow your client base and sales, you have to be a known expert source, be top of mind and to do that you have to be visible and it can’t be about you.
So how the hell do you do that? Lucky for you, I compiled the below suggestions.
- Blog. Whether you start your own personal blog, write for your business’ blog or write for a local publication, you need to make your voice heard and it should be often. This gives you visibility within your industry and positions you as a resource. The content you share must be relevant and address or solve a problem within your industry.
- Network. Get out and get out often. No one ever made a name for themselves sitting on their ass and hiding behind a computer. Look at professional organizations, networking groups, nonprofits in need of volunteers and GO. If you are terrified of networking, you probably should consider a change in career. Read Liz Lynch’s Smart Networking, you can thank me later.
- Speak. When I started out in my professional career, it wasn’t like I was in high demand…in fact, no one wanted me. So where was my very first speaking engagement? A local assisted living center, I went in and chatted with the residents and gave a formal presentation , powerpoint and all. I then stayed around and spent time answering their questions and further explaining the world of marketing to them. The fact is, it doesn’t matter where you go to speak but do it and do it often. Eventually you will land those very desirable opportunities but treat every engagement as if it is the most important thing you have to do. And to the gentleman who fell asleep and was snoring through my presentation…I salute you.
- Social. Your networking, speaking and writing game may be strong but if you aren’t actively engaged in social media, then how are you promoting yourself? Every time you go some place, check in via Facebook, send a few tweets about the event (obviously tag the host or company), snap some photos and share over Instagram and be sure to use the event hashtag through all mediums.
- Give. Give of your time, talent and money. If you want the community and business community to embrace you and hire you, then you need to give back. Join a nonprofit board (and not as a resume builder), but to really lend your talents, take on a pro bono project, become a mentor and support causes in the community. I am telling you, being a good person really does pay off.
- Say yes. You read all of these articles about the power of ‘no’ but I am hear to tell you there is much more value in ‘yes’. When you are just starting out building your network, then you need to say yes to EVERYTHING. Eventually you will have the luxury to be more strategic with where you put your time and talent, but in the beginning you have to give, give, give. When I started out, I joined every board, committee and volunteer opportunity that would ask me.
- Time. You have to work, not werk. You are always on, always. That means when you are working to build a network it takes time. You need to continue to educate yourself on the community, industry and spend time writing, networking, facebooking, tweeting, instagramming…you get the idea. Quite frankly, you get to sleep – otherwise you better be working.
Owning a small business is hard work, being a professional in a competitive industry is tough…but it isn’t impossible. Become the chief salesperson of you. Follow these tips consistently for 6 months and you will see results. Would I lie to you?