Learning to Market Yourself
At some point or another, everyone has been told that they need to learn how to “market themselves” better. But what does that mean? Marketing can be a very broad term. It’s generally defined as any activities involved in selling and promoting products and services. But how does that apply when you’re “the product”?
“But I Already Have a Steady Job”
Obviously, knowing how to market oneself is monumentally important for the self employed. However, even people with a reliable occupation should spend some time developing this skill set. Almost everyone has or will experience some sort of unexpected upset in their career. In such a situation, good self-marketing skills will be the difference between quickly landing a new job and spending an eternity in interview purgatory.
What Does It Mean?
Some people insist that marketing yourself means maintaining a strong, active social media presence. Others believe that you need a personal website that shows off who you really are. Another school of thought contends that nothing compares to getting out there, shaking hands and making personal impressions. Presented with all these opinions, properly marketing yourself seems like an overwhelming amount of work. The truth is that any of these options could be appropriate for your situation, or they could all be wrong.
Does that sound confusing? Think of it this way: marketing yourself just means connecting your skills with whoever will compensate them the best. First you have to figure out how to get yourself in front of the people who need your abilities. Next, show them that you know what you’re doing. With a little professional etiquette, the rest will take care of itself.
Just as the markets for consumer electronics and petroleum products are completely different, so too are the markets for various skills. The following are some of the most popular ways to get work:
- A Personal Website: This is where you can display your portfolio, list who you’ve worked with and express some of your personality.
- Social Media: While a personal website is a great place to show off what you’ve got, social media accounts will help get your name in front of people. While there’s less room for your work, there’s more opportunity to connect.
- Personal Networking: Even in the digital age, your work relationships can be one of the strongest ways to get more work. By staying in touch with people who know you (and your work ethic) well, you might just end up with your foot in a door.
At the outset, you’ll probably need to try a little bit of everything. However, once you find a strategy that works, focus your time on it.
Know What You Have to Offer
Your credentials are important, but you probably already have them listed on your resume. What you might not have laid out as clearly are your skills. It’s not up to your customers or potential employers to figure out what you’re good at before they’ve hired you. Spend some time writing down the work achievements you’re most proud of, even if they didn’t result in an increase in pay. How did you pull them off? How could you do it again? By answering these questions, you’ll figure out how to articulate some of your most valuable talents. This is what can set you apart from everyone else who pitches a particular client or interviews for a job.
Whatever you do, don’t stop trying. Sure, it can be disappointing when you don’t hear back after pitching yourself, but always keep this in mind: somewhere, there’s a client wondering why they haven’t found someone with your skills yet!