By Jeff Beals
The world becomes more “commoditized” each year.
In other words, the services and products you sell are becoming more and more like commodities. The skills you offer as an individual professional are unfortunately seen my many people as commodities too.
How has this happened?
There are many factors. Technology has made many individual skills obsolete. The same applies to products and services. Many of the things we sold a few years ago now have little or no value because of rapidly advancing technology.
Thanks in part to technology, companies and organizations are now amazingly efficient in producing goods and creating cutting-edge services. Marketable ideas go from concept to scaled-up products in a very short period of time. Our unprecedented efficiency has changed the way we live and the way we do business.
In addition to technology and efficient scaling, the economy is increasingly global in nature. Capital transcends international borders. Talented people can go just about anywhere and compete with just about anyone. Life moves pretty fast!
So how can you as an individual professional, transcend commoditization? How can you stay relevant as things around you change so quickly? How can you reserve your professional standing when so much of what happens around you is utterly outside your control?
Here’s a good place to start: master the art of personal branding.
Always remember that you are a brand. You are a business of one.
As a hard-working professional, you have a personal brand, a reputation that must be carefully maintained and zealously promoted. In today’s loud, crowded and hyper-active marketplace, effective personal branding has never been more important.
When someone is ready for the services/products you provide and the skills you possess, how can your personal brand stand out in a crowd? If you’re a good self marketer, you have little to fear. You need to be the professional whose name pops into the client’s head when it’s time to buy.
Building a bigger image takes work, but anyone with at least moderate talent can do it. The key is to follow certain steps:
- See yourself as a business entity, not just a person
- Stay up-to-date. Constantly educate yourself. Study everything you can about your profession and industry
- Determine who is in your personal target audience, the group of people who have influence over how successful you are. You need to make sure that this group of people knows all about you
- Exploit the part of your expertise that is most interesting to outsiders. I call it your “area of self marketing expertise.” That’s what you talk about when you meet new people
- Live actively and network every day. You need to be externally focused. Make it your mission to reach out and build your list of fans
- Foster relationships with local media. You are an expert and therefore a valuable source for news stories. The exposure you get from the media helps your personal brand transcend the ups and downs of the business cycle
- Become a writer and speaker within your area of expertise. You have a lot to say and there are organizations out there that would love to learn from you. Business and career opportunities often come from writing and speaking
- Promote yourself 24-hours-a-day on the Internet. Use social media. When someone Googles your name, it’s important that a lot of good stuff shows up in the search returns
- Always be prospecting. When you’re out and about, whether for personal or professional purposes, always keep your eye and ear open for opportunity
You have sole ownership of your personal brand, but it comes with a burden. You bear the responsibility for building that brand, shaping it and promoting it to the general public. As a self marketer, you can recruit the services of others, but the responsibility to carry out a marketing strategy is ultimately yours.
Don’t let other people or any haunting feelings of self doubt stand in your way. Self marketers have to stick their necks out and take risks. Not only is it worth the risk, but establishing a well-known personal brand is essential in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.