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Be Everywhere

The American philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went to the woods, because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to love deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I love that passage, and while I’m not hiding out on Walden Pond, I try to follow that philosophy.

As professionals we need “to suck out the marrow” of our career lives. We have to lead active, deliberate careers that are at least somewhat externally focused. That means you turn off the laptop, step out of your cubical and get involved outside the office.

As long as you don’t over-commit yourself – burning the candle at both ends, so to speak – being involved actually makes you better at your core work.

People who join professional associations, who get involved in their place of worship, or who engage in community service learn more and meet more people. Many of the people you meet during involvement opportunities are members of your personal target audience. In any given office, there is at least one person who is active in the community and seemingly knows everyone. It is no coincidence that such a person brings in a lot of business, finds great publicity opportunities for the company and, in turn, gets a lot of promotions.

Simply put, involvement leads to success. Self marketing is a 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year obligation. It does not end until your career ends. You must be out there seeing and being seen. You have to do it perpetually, so that your personal target audience remembers you.

An acquaintance of mine once noticed my quote and picture in a newspaper article. A week earlier, she saw me do an interview on television. She occasionally listened to my radio show. She would frequently see me at networking functions around town. She called me one afternoon and said, “I just have to tell you – you are everywhere!” She was amazed at how I was getting around town, meeting people and building name recognition. I told her it was just part of my job and part of my long-term career strategy. I wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t already know, because she too did a great job being “everywhere.”

Use your time wisely. If you have family or other commitments in the evening, make sure you use your lunch hour for networking and other self marketing activities. Ambitious professionals should not eat lunch by themselves more than once or twice a week; it’s simply too important of a networking opportunity to waste.

The fact is, in order to stand out, you need to be everywhere. As much as you may desire to go home and watch television after work, you need to spend a little more time working, showing up at events. While you don’t have to drink until your liver gives out, you do need to be a man or woman about town. Sometimes you have to stay out late at a cocktail party where important prospects have gathered. Sometimes you need to get up early and meet a member of your personal target audience for coffee before you both start work.

It’s not easy, and it comes with a price, but successful professionals are seemingly “everywhere.”

Don’t Waste the Bad Economy

While many indicators point to an improving economy, it’s far more difficult to attract clients now than it was a few years ago. Perhaps worse, many economists expect the job market to remain dismal for all of 2010 and maybe even longer. Credit is still hard to obtain and consumer confidence is far from robust.

When times are tough, the phones aren’t ringing so much and the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked. When business is difficult, it just isn’t fun anymore. That leads many to pull back and reduce their work intensity for fear that their efforts would end up being applied in vain.

That’s the wrong response to a challenging market. In times like these, smart professionals develop new products, become more innovative, embrace creativity and market themselves harder than ever.

If you’re not working on as many deals as you would like right now, use the extra time to sharpen your skills. Read business books and invite people you admire to lunch, so you can “pick their brains.” Perhaps you’ve been thinking of developing a new product. This is a great time to work on it. Use the down time to reexamine what you do. Try to see your career and your business from different angles in order to find more effective ways to accomplish your mission.

A long time ago, the great businessman Henry Ford visited a beef packing plant in Chicago. Ford took great interest in the way workers processed the beef from whole carcasses into small cuts of ready-to-sell meat. As he observed, it occurred to Ford that if the process was reversed, all the cuts would go back together to form a whole steer carcass again. The metaphorical light bulb switched on in Ford’s head. “I can build automobiles this way,” he thought. Ford returned home to Detroit and promptly created the famous assembly line.

What can you learn from the methods other professionals use in their industries?

A recession is no time to stop marketing. History shows that those companies and professionals that stay in front of their clients are the ones that prosper when good times return.

During the 1920’s, Ford was selling 10 vehicles for every one sold by Chevrolet. After the Great Depression, Chevy held the sales lead. Why? Marketing. Chevy didn’t let up during the bad economy. The same thing occurred in other industries. Before the Depression, C.W. Post dominated the breakfast cereal market. By the end of the Depression, Kellogg was number one.

Never let down times or any self doubt cause you to slow your efforts to foster relationships, build your brand and acquire new clients.

Yes, times are tough, but business is cyclical. If you think about it, a recession is a precious period of time when viewed in the context of your entire career. If business was always raging at top speed, when would we have the chance to reinvent?

So, if you haven’t started your recession-time self-improvement work, you need to get going. There might not be much time to finish it before things start booming again.

The Fine Line

My most frequent presentation topic is the same as the title of my first book: “Self Marketing Power,” which is my fancy term for “personal branding.” In today’s loud, crowded and fast-moving market place, personal branding is an essential skill. Regardless of what you do for a living, you must develop a personal brand, jealously guard its integrity and zealously promote it to your personal target audience.

Despite the necessity of personal branding, many professionals aren’t entirely comfortable doing it. They’re afraid they might cross the fine line that lies between healthy, effective self marketing and egotistical boasting. That’s a reasonable concern, because one of the first things a self marketer must embrace is the virtue of humility. Nobody likes braggarts, show-offs, know-it-alls and blowhards.

Never fear, you can avoid turning your self marketing efforts into egotisical boasting by following a few, simple criteria: 1. plan your self marketing efforts ahead of time; 2. be consistent in your personal-brand message; 3. make sure your self marketing tactics are carried out skillfully and tastefully; and 4. make sure anything you do for self marketing purposes is ethical, moral and benefits others in addition to furthering your own brand.

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog. I will write articles related to personal branding and other business motivation topics that will help you achieve greater business, career and life success. Some of the material will come from my books and speeches, while other material will come from research or life observations. I hope you enjoy it and find value in it. Best wishes for great success!