Join Dr. Chaz Austin for an in-depth discussion in this video How to self-market, part of Creating a Career Plan.
- Visibility is credibility. If people don't know what you do, you can't sell it. In addition to constantly improving your skill set, which includes earning degrees or certificates, attending conferences, always reading about developments in your field, meeting new people, et cetera, you also need to develop a life long practice of letting people know exactly what it is you offer and that you're available. There are three steps in the process of marketing yourself.
I've developed this over time in the classroom and use it with all my clients. The first step is to define your brand. What is it you do, exactly? And more specifically, what can you do to make or save money for a cilent? What is it that's special or unique about you? In other words, what combination of skills and experience do you have that would make an employer want to work with you? Brand is relationship and reputation. In other words, when people in your industry think of you, what comes to mind? If you were Coca Cola, for example, people would think brown, bubbly, sweet, refreshing, caffeine kick, and carbonated.
When your name is mentioned, do your colleagues think, flaky, difficult, unreliable? Or do they associate you with qualities like creative, good follow through, friendly, hardworking and positive attitude? For example, Dr. Susan Love, for whom I worked many years ago is a surgeon, author and advocate for preventive breast cancer research. Her brand is that she is one of the most respected women's health specialists in the country. Once you have defined your brand, the second step is practicing how to articulate your brand message.
This is your sound byte or elevator pitch, a description of about 30 seconds that encapsulates the main skills you offer. That's about as long as an elevator ride in a tall building lasts, which is where the name comes from. Your brand message extends to your story or narrative, and that includes your passions and why they're your passions, your history, professional and personal, and how you got to where you are in your life. People will want to get to know you, so you need to be able to easily and engagingly talk about yourself, particularly in regard to how what you do would be of value to the potential employer or client you're speaking with.
Most of us are neither trained nor terribly comfortable talking about ourselves, but as the composer Philip Glass said, "You practice and you get better. "It's very simple." Like any skill, as you deliver your brand message over and over, you improve. And let me add that you may never be great at pitching yourself. You just need to be good enough so that after people meet you they leave with a clear understanding of who you are and what you can do for them. Once you've determined what your brand is and how to communicate that, you can now move on to networking, marketing, and selling your brand.
And yes, you need to go through the process in this order. There's no point in meeting with people who could potentially hire or refer you if you can't clearly convey your message. But once you know how, you're ready to find the people who can use and will pay for what it is you have to offer. Whatever your vocation, whether you're a chemist, college professor or financial advisor, anything. Marketing yourself and your services needs to become an integral part of your work life.
It's equal in importance to the actual work you do, because without it, you won't get to do your work. So define your brand, articulate the brand message, and practice networking, marketing, and selling your brand until the entire process becomes second nature. Now finding the work you want to do will be that much easier because people will constantly be aware of what it is you can offer them.
- Understanding the 21st-century workplace
- Identifying your monetizable passion
- Knowing how to interview well
- Managing your search for work
- Negotiating salary
- Becoming a lifelong learner