Marketing is a very important part of developing your own personal brand…yep… marketing… and every consultant/employee needs to develop a structured marketing plan that is followed closely, and adjusted, as the needs of her career takes shape…
Visibility is one of the top factors contributing to excellent marketing plans and implementations…it’s the prevailing wisdom anyway..Let’s assume that is true and run with it. For my fellow MBAs remember your funnel in marketing-visibility is all the way at the top and it’s what makes a personal brand what it is.
How will you get more visibility?
With the recent explosion of reality television and the onslaught of events and individuals that will do anything to receive global and national exposure, it has become common to assume that any exposure (visibility) to the outside world is warranted exposure. However, as a professional your objective should be to be seen as a subject matter expert regardless of personality flaws which are mostly visible within your circle of friends.
Being seen as a subject matter expert will be the reason employers will hire you. Thus far in my career it is a theory that seems to work with my clients. Therefore, your aim in gaining visibility is to receive that awesome kind of visibility that allows others to perceive you as a subject matter expert in whatever field you happen to be working in.
Start by asking yourself the following questions…
What do you want to accomplish?
Your objective would be to build a network of prospective clients/contacts/friends/colleagues who might become clients. Hope to build strong relationships with them and form a customer base that will come back for repeat business—yep even employers can come back for repeat business. We call them re-hires. My first lesson in the corporate world was that repeat business is the most effective way to grow, and that lesson should translate well to employment as well. It costs much more to bring on new clients than it does to keep old ones.
What’s your overall plan?
Perhaps it needs to be a mixture of all the above: You should attend more industry specific events (for example SHRM annual meeting), attempt to write a publishable articles for a mainstream journal, find a blog related to your profession that will allow you to contribute articles, attend social networking events, meet new people and join local organizations that promote business (e.g. the Washington D.C Chamber of Commerce).
Initially, you should opt to not use brochures or advertising, or anything flashy because of the initial cost, but print business cards and ask individuals who you’ve worked with to refer you to any possible opportunities. Keep it simple, and simple it will keep you—the plan that is.
How do I become a subject matter expert?
To be perceived as an expert you will need to provide valuable information when needed to any prospective client, and to constantly be able to make myself of great use to future potential clients. You might plan to do this using both direct and indirect methods.
Direct methods would be to answer questions that prospective clients might have (for example on LinkedIn’s Q&A section) or in blogs for online visibility. Other examples include attending conferences, seminars and expos to meet individuals in your field who may have questions that you are able to answer.
It is important though to only answer in areas where you have a very strong background or to simply say “I don’t know” when I’m unable to assist. Intuitively, it seems that experts are very precise about that information they give out as well as careful not to say anything that they are not 100 percent sure about.
Writing in periodicals and journals about subjects that I you are knowledgeable about or possess unique information in, would go a long way in providing you with the type of exposure that is needed to be successful.
More specifically, participate and get involved in professional organizations and associations. For example, I am an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS), the Human Capital Institute (HCI) and several other organizations that I believe will and do provide me with excellent visibility. I have attended conferences, seminars, and social events in these organizations and on occasion I have found job opportunities, prospects, clients, and life-long friends in these events.
Don’t overlook social networking though. This resource will be an excellent tool for receiving visibility. In order to be effective in marketing, you will need to cast a wide net and see if it yields any results.
Identify 3-5 people that you want more exposure with:
Who would you want to know, meet, and network with? Can they help you strengthen your personal brand in any way? Perhaps someone who is knowing your industry, or someone who can help with your goals in the long-term. Then target them, ask them out on a date, buy them coffee and ask for 30 minutes of their time.
Ask them questions, listen to them, tell them what your goals are.. You never know. The most important thing to understand is that your personal brand can pay off dividends for such a long period of time that it’s worth investing in.