13 Tips for Marketing Yourself
When people think of brands, they think of businesses and advertising. They think of the goods and products those businesses sell. What many people don’t stop to consider is that you are the best product you have to sell. Marketing involves selling yourself as much as it does your business. Marketing yourself is essential to every step of your success, from finding a job to building your own small business.
Self-marketing means building your own personal brand, but it requires a bit of a different approach than marketing a company. It starts by thinking of yourself as the CEO of your own brand. Creating your own personal brand is the best way to communicate what you have to offer and take your efforts to the next level.
How to Market Yourself
The first step in learning how to market yourself is to determine what it is that sets you apart from everyone else, what it is that gives your personal brand value. Before you even start the process, spend some time sitting down and thinking about your strengths, the things that drive and motivate you and your goals. What are the things that your peers appreciate about you? What do you bring to the table? If you were to quit your job today, what is it that the company would lose?
This also means knowing your weak points. Think about the areas where you could stand to improve. Make a list of your weakest points, and be brutally honest with yourself — after all, at this point, it’s just you, and you’re not helping yourself by sugar-coating anything.
Discover What Others Think of You
The next step to building your personal brand is to find out what others think about you. Talk with trusted co-workers and colleagues to discover the adjectives they’d use to describe you. Ask what they see as your strengths and weaknesses. Ask them where you’re irreplaceable, and where you could stand to improve. Compare your list to what you learned from your colleagues.
Define Your Goals
Next, put these lists aside for a moment and reflect on your goals. The best way to set goals is to start with the big picture — the long-range end goal — and then work down to the smallest individual goals. Begin with where you see yourself in 20 years. Then, break it down to 15 years, then 10, then five, then one. Where will you need to be at each of these time frames to meet your final end goal? What is realistically achievable to get you there?
The key to defining goals is to make them manageable and well within reach. You need measurable milestones, and when you reach them, you’ll feel accomplished and driven to reach the next one. It sets up a pattern of success.
Know Your Audience
Every brand has a target audience. That includes your personal brand. Understanding how to market yourself means knowing your audience and how to reach them. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing? Are you looking to get a new job and advance your career? Are you looking to advertise yourself as the head of your own company? Do you have an entirely different goal altogether? Knowing who your audience is will enable you to deliver your message in the right ways, to the right people.
Set Your Priorities
You’ve probably spent your entire life feeling like you were second to someone or something else, whether it’s your company, your boss, your clients, your co-workers or anything else. Naturally, you have loyalty to these groups, and there’s something to be said for loyalty; however, it’s important, and it engenders loyalty in return.
Remember, though, that your loyalty has to be to yourself first. If you’re not doing what’s best for you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. There’s a time to put others first, and a time to focus on you, and when it comes to your personal brand, it’s all about you.
Get Down to Details
Your personal brand affects everything you do. It’s what people see when you post on social media. It’s the way people react to you in person. It’s you, and the way others see you, from top to bottom. This means you have to be sure that every detail is what you want people to see. This involves your style of dress, the way you move, your interpersonal behavior both in person and online and all the communications you offer. Everything has to be consistent with the brand you’re looking to present.
A lot of this gets down to reputation management. You can make one mistaken post on social media, and it can be devastating to your image. You need to be on top of every detail of your image. Don’t focus on mistakes you’ve made — focus on creating more positive points. The more recent positive interactions you have, the more distant those negative ones will become.
Cleaning up your image is about creating positive interactions, not erasing negative ones. Be focused on the details of what you want to present, and stick to them every step of the way. This can be the hardest part of your marketing.
Update Your Resume
At some point, this is an essential part of marketing you. Your resume is your life in a snapshot. Whether it’s a CV, a portfolio or a two-page resume, it needs to say everything important about you at a glance. That means you need to stay on top of it and keep it updated at all times. In addition, keep it consistent. We live in a world where people can have a dozen or more resumes and portfolios out there, all over the web.
Know where your profiles are and keep them up to date. If this means scheduling time to do nothing else but updating profiles, schedule the time.
The reason you need to do this is that part of your brand is consistency. You can’t have one resume painting one picture of you, and another profile on a different site painting a completely different portrait. It’s okay for your profiles to have different focuses, but the details need to be consistent and up to date.
It’s All About Your (Social) Network
We’ve talked about reputation management already, but what’s important to understand is that as scary as social media can be, you can’t eschew it altogether. Don’t let the concern about a bad post put you off of Facebook and Twitter. Social media is essential to building a network.
Comb through your profiles, going back several years, and delete any posts that don’t represent the way you want to be seen. Make it as squeaky clean as possible. This is important and gets back to reputation management. Nothing is ever gone forever on the internet, but for the most part, your brand is going to need to hold up to a quick search and cursory glance.
Then, when you’re ready, reach out to your target audience and ask them to connect with your account. Get them to follow your posts and pages, and then update every day, potentially two or three times a day if you can. Keep your posts and updates engaging, and make sure they connect with your brand. You want to engage your audience. Part of building a brand is being seen, and social media is where that happens.
Build a Website
If someone told you that websites are passé and no longer relevant, they were wrong. Build a website that highlights who you are, your accomplishments, your experience, knowledge and skills and the value you bring. Keep it focused on you, though, not on your company. This is not your business site — this is your personal site. You can easily set something up on sites like WordPress or a range of other providers that have easy template-based services you can use to get started quickly.
Once you’re up and running, get a blog going. Make a commitment to posting a blog at least three times a week, and keep it focused on topics that will be interesting and educational and will be directly related to your experience and skills.
This is potentially the most intimidating part of building your brand. If you can write a book or contribute to notable industry publications, that’s fantastic. It’s an ideal means of self-promotion that paints you as knowledgeable or even an expert in your field. Even better, you don’t have to get a contract with a major publisher to get a book out there. Self-publishing is all the rage and can be done easily at places like CreateSpace.
If you’re not ready to take that leap yet, post articles and papers on your website. Then use your social media accounts to point people toward the publications, whether for sale or for free on your site. One great way to show off your personality and get a lot of notice is to start a podcast. Internet radio is huge, and podcasting is the new blogging. You can do video podcasts on YouTube, or even just audio podcasts you publish on your website, on iTunes, on Amazon and elsewhere.
We’ve talked about the importance of social media, but even in the digital age, on-the-ground, in-person interactions matter. If you don’t have a physical presence in the world, you’re not much more than a ghost. Join up with industry groups. Get yourself invited as a special guest at trade shows and conferences. Give talks. Look for opportunities to spearhead large projects that will let you showcase your talents.
In fact, you should have an elevator pitch about yourself. An elevator pitch is a kind of description of who you are, what you stand for, and what you offer that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride in an elevator — that is, in less than 30 seconds. It needs to be interesting, engaging and unique.
If you’re struggling to develop your elevator pitch, keep in mind a few things: First, you need to find a way to make people care about you and your ideas. The moment you’re finished with your pitch, the person you’re talking to should be invested. Second, you should always leave the person you’re pitching to wanting more information. Obviously, your elevator pitch should include your strongest points, but it should also leave an opening for the other person to ask for more information.
Keeping all aspects of your marketing current may be the most challenging, yet important, part of your self-branding. You need to keep everyone in your network constantly updated about what’s going on with you. Get them to spread the word and bring others in. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is, even in a digital age. What your network says about you is essential to your brand.
People should be able to define you in just a couple of sentences, and any 10 people should have a substantially similar description.
Tips to Building a Brand
Building a brand is all about being seen and getting known. Join a professional society or group. If there isn’t one, do what it takes to start one. Work your way up to officer status, whether it’s president, treasurer, event planner or secretary. Look for opportunities to volunteer. This will present you as someone who is willing and eager to commit to a cause you support.
Engage in activities like clubs and sports that will enable you to build teamwork and leadership skills. Above all, understand this: You have the time. Don’t ever make excuses about not having the time to do what it takes. If you don’t have an abundance of time, remember that this is your future — make the time.
Building a brand is the first step in elevating and growing your small business. After all, if people trust you, they’ll trust your business. When it comes to funding and building a business, your best bet is applying for a small business loan and checking out small business resources so that you can learn not just how to market yourself, but how to create a successful business from the ground up.