By Jeff Beals
As has become tradition, a “New Year’s special,” I’m reminding you to up your game when it comes to marketing yourself.
The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess your personal brand status and make plans to grow and strengthen the image people have of you.
Make no mistake…You ARE a brand. You’re a business of one, a business unto yourself. Every successful business makes annual marketing goals. As a “personal business,” so too must you. So too must all of us.
Whether you want more/bigger clients or a better career opportunity, make a commitment to market yourself in 2014.
To get you started, here are 12 items to consider:
Focus externally – Be active and involved outside your home or office. Show up at networking events. Go out of your way to talk to people when you are in public venues. Remember that nearly 75% of all jobs are never advertised and a similar percentage of big clients only come from relationship-building. Make it a goal to attend a certain number of events per month.
Think Like a Salesperson – Because you are a “business” of one, you need to sell yourself the way businesses sell themselves. Read up on marketing and sales techniques. Remember that a good sales rep always has lots of prospects moving through all parts of his or her pipeline (sometimes referred to as a funnel) at all times. In other words, at any given time, you should be meeting new people, strengthening relationships with existing acquaintances and holding serious professional conversations (deal-making, so to speak) with people you know well.
Find the Fascinating – You need an “area of self-marketing expertise,” something about your business or career that is fascinating to people outside your profession. Feature this when you are networking or using social media.
Focus on results when networking – Determine what is most interesting about your career and your line of work and then exploit it. I call it your “area of self marketing expertise.” That’s what you talk about when you meet new people, not the mundane, technical details that will cause a lay person’s eyes to glaze over in boredom.
Build a “Google trail” – If you haven’t done a search on your name lately, see what’s out there. I guarantee that people are Googling you on a regular basis. A prospective client will probably Google you to know who he or she is dealing with before meeting with you. That’s why a Google trail is so important. If nothing or very little pops up when someone Googles you, there’s a problem – they’ll assume you don’t have much going on. Therefore, Google your own name on a regular basis. If you’re not very visible on line, deliberately get your name out there to build an Internet presence.
Get serious about social media – Be honest…Is your online brand inadequate? Social media are now to people what the Yellow Pages were to businesses 20 years ago – THE place where future clients and prospective employers find out about you. Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise.
Go Beyond the Big Three – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great, but don’t stop there. The more social media outlets you use, the better. Google+ is growing in importance. You can even use Pinterest to build a personal brand. Some professionals have received great benefit from placing short videos on YouTube. Blogging has long been a powerful personal branding tool.
Use Your Real Name – In order to build your personal brand awareness, use your real name when reviewing products on websites, making comments at the end of newspaper/magazine articles and posting comments on discussion forums. Just make sure the things you write help your personal brand as opposed to harming it.
Engage the Media – Volunteer your expertise to media outlets in your industry as well as your local market. Make a point to meet members of your local and industry media and build friendly relationships with them. In addition to traditional media, you can get a lot of mileage from doing blogs and podcasts.
Refresh your elevator speech – Does your 20-second intro speech need updating? You need to be able to say what you do quickly, clearly and in a way that captures a person’s interest. A useful elevator speech also conveys how a person could benefit from what you do.
Ask probing questions – Don’t just chit-chat and make small talk during networking conversations. Ask some questions designed to uncover the critical information that leads to new opportunities.
Listen to your clients and colleagues – When we get too busy, it’s easy to start making assumptions. Those assumptions can cause you to lose opportunities. Instead, ask the important questions and truly listen to the responses. Don’t just go through the motions. Let the other person’s words sink in and make an impression on your brain.
By the way, never let up. When things are good, don’t let complacency stop you from perpetually marketing yourself. When things are going poorly, don’t let discouragement be an excuse for apathy.
Remember, marketing yourself is never about ego; it’s just marketing. In a loud and crowded world, hard work and talent are no longer enough. You need to make sure key audiences know about your abilities and accomplishments.
At the dawn of a New Year, as it is all year long, destiny is in your hands.
May 2014 bring you unprecedented prosperity.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. You can learn more and follow his “Beals Motivation Blog” at www.JeffBeals.com.