We all know that marketing is a complicated mix of product line, pricing strategy, positioning/branding, and promotion. That mix becomes even more complicated when one is attempting to market oneself. In today's competitive environment, career professionals and entrepreneurs alike must be able to demonstrate their value to the right people in the right contexts in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Here are five strategies to keep in mind:
1. Determine a clear strategy for everything. Whether you are contemplating attending a networking function, volunteering for a special project, or deciding whether to get another degree or go to a conference, it's critical to truly understand what , specifically, you need to gain from your investment in money, time, and energy. All three are precious resources and can easily be squandered. Any time you are considering a new activity or project, take time to carefully consider the following questions:
Why am I doing this?
Why am I doing this in this way?
What else can I do with this?
What do I really want to happen as a result of this?
Who or what is critical here?
How will I measure success?
2. Capitalize on all opportunities to gain exposure and influence. If you're a regular reader of this newsletter, you';ve heard this one many times. It's all too easy to disappear into your own silo and then wonder why no one is calling you. In order to be considered for special projects and assignments, you must first be seen and you must be seen when the opportunity exists.
Think about a quit-smoking program. If you have a product that helps someone quit smoking, there is only one time that matters when your product must be seen -- when the person actually commits to quit smoking. Therefore, you must be "out there"; on a regular basis in order to be there when the time is right for them.
How can you gain exposure and influence on a regular basis?
- Speak at conferences and in your community
- Write articles for trade publications and your own company newsletter
- Be active in social media, write a blog, and actively participate in other leading blog-sites
- Host meetings, networking functions, task forces, and other activities that bring influential people together
- Connect with influential people within your company and within your industry and area of functional expertise and continue communicating with them on a regular basis
- Volunteer for key assignments and in any community activity where you will be able to informally interact with influential people
3. Leverage everything. Think "green"; in terms of your work. Recycle everything in a different form. Your hard work deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. Ask yourself:
How can I repurpose this:
- Training program?
- For whom?
- In what form?
For example, record your conference presentation, take the .mp3 and have it transcribed cheaply through a vendor you find in eLance.com, take the transcribed Word document and then have a writer break it into a series of articles, and then pitch it to a trade publications editor. You can also take the same .mp3 recording and break it into segments and create an audio product from it, post podcasts on your blog, use it as the basis of a recorded webinar, or simply send segments to influential people who may
benefit from your message. The combinations are endless.
4. Strike when you're hot – follow up. Sadly, this is the Achilles Heel for almost any busy professional or entrepreneur. You meet someone who could offer you incredible access to valued resources and you take their card back to the office with every good intention . . . and it gets lost in the shuffle. How many business cards do you have lying around that you didn’t follow up on? Even with the ones you did, how many did you re-connect with to create the most important round of sharing or conversation?
When an opportunity comes your way:
- Follow up immediately – within the first 24 hours
- Suggest a"next step": if one is not offered
- Follow up again within 2 weeks and take the conversation or sharing one step further
- Create a system for regular, ongoing communication and sharing - and add all high-value resources to it. (See the June issue for a great tracking system.)
5. Plant lots of seeds. Living in the "Information Age":, we are bombarded by free tips on how to do anything and everything. You may need to be willing to share your best knowledge more freely than is often comfortable. However, by giving away the right information to the right people, you begin to create goodwill, trust, and liking. When the time comes for that target to choose someone to assist in their specific projects, you will have positioned yourself to be a safe and smart choice. Just like in planting seeds, you never know for sure which goodwill gestures will "sprout";. It takes the right timing and conditions. Therefore, plant many seeds and you will be assured good, viable sprouts on a regular basis.
- Provide demos or work samples regularly to your strategic targets
- Give freely and regularly to demonstrate your expertise and build rapport/likeability
- Give them lots of no- and low-risk ways to access/invest in you
Whether your goal is to continue building a successful career or growing your own business, these timeless tips will serve you well. Take a little time each day to make sure you evaluate opportunities from a strategic view, continue to build exposure and influence, leverage your best work in every way possible, follow up religiously, and keep planting those seeds.
Dr. Myra Corrello helps entrepreneurs, executives, and subject-matter-experts craft presentations to increase revenue, secure investors, build PR, or enhance overall effectiveness. She offers presentation-skills support through coaching, consulting, on-site training, webinars, and downloadable self-study resources. Find out more at: www.PresentationsForResults.com
or contact Myra at (504) 899-8660 or by email: Myra@PresentationsForResults.com.