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how to market yourself

Filed under: — Justin Mead @ 10:23 am

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Savvy employees know that they need to go beyond just working
hard and hoping someone recognizes them for new opportunities
or promotions. It is critical that individuals, young and
old, learn to market themselves, which is one of the Career
™ skills needed to be successful in today’s
workplace. Even students who seek internships and first jobs
can begin with the basics of marketing themselves and benefit
from being in the right place at the right time with the right
people. A famous quote supports this: “Luck is where
preparation meets opportunity.” Marketing yourself creates

What does “marketing yourself” really mean? What
are the benefits of marketing yourself as a competent resource
both inside and outside your organization? And what steps
do you take to market yourself?

When marketing yourself, think of yourself as the “product”
and what you can do as the “service.” It’s your
responsibility to identify what expertise you can offer to
your “customer.” For employees, your customer is
your manager and company, and for those in job search, your
customer is a potential hiring manager in another company.
The challenge is that the workplace and its players keep changing,
so the activities needed to build the relationships needed
for marketing yourself must be consistent and ongoing.

Sometimes when people hear the words “marketing yourself,”
they say it makes them feel queasy in the pit of their stomachs.
Often, it is because they think of marketing as pushing yourself
on other people, empty socializing, and superficial small
talk. On the contrary, effective marketing creates a pull
for your expertise. You establish yourself as an expert in
your area and people recognize you for your talents.

Developing the skills for marketing oneself has become increasingly
important as the complexity and change in the workplace has
accelerated. Even for talented, competent people, it’s a buyer’s
market. Individuals always benefit by making themselves more
attractive candidates, whether inside or outside their organizations.
Workers are more mobile, changing jobs, managers, employers,
and geographic locations frequently, so they constantly have
to educate others on their capabilities and experience. Jobs
disappear due to advances in technology, outsourcing, or off-shoring
options, so individuals are in the job market more often.
On the other hand, people skilled at marketing themselves
are first to hear news of emerging opportunities in their
company or field, like working on virtual international teams
or learning a new technology.

There is also a positive personal impact that results from
marketing yourself. You can accomplish your personal and professional
goals more easily and often faster. In addition, you can find
opportunities to contribute your expertise more quickly and,
in fact, have the opportunities find you. You will reap benefits
of increased visibility, employability, and career resiliency.
The process of marketing yourself creates options and choices
for you as well, because you hear about them sooner.

The process of marketing yourself can be similar to the kind
of marketing plan developed for a product or service. Here
is an eight-step Personal Marketing Plan Template, based on
a business marketing plan, to guide you:

1. Define your mission and the benefits you offer

  • Start with self knowledge: natural talents (aptitudes),
    interests, personality and values

  • Consider what role fits you best: generalist
    or specialist or a combination

  • Ask yourself, “What do I have to offer?”

2. Set your marketing objective: What exactly do you want
to achieve?

  • Be specific, make it measurable, make it realistic, and
    build in a timeline with deadlines.

3. Design performance measures: What will be the observable,
objective indicators that show that you are accomplishing
or have accomplished your goal?

4. Gather, analyze, and interpret information about your
situation using Career Vision’s “SWOT
. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities
and Threats. A SWOT analysis is a structured strategic planning
model often used for a project or business venture. The Career
Vision version of the SWOT analysis is designed for an individual
to use for career management and personal marketing purposes.

  • Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses: How
    do you stack up against your competition?

  • Identify external opportunities and threats: What trends
    may affect you and your career positively or negatively?

5. Identify your target markets: Who needs to know you, your
capabilities, and professional goals?

  • This may mean that you focus your efforts on key managers,
    mentors or human resources staff solely within your organization,
    or that you broaden your outreach through membership in
    professional organizations, depending on your goal.

  • Also include the geographic scope of where you want to
    market yourself, for example, the Chicagoland area? The
    Midwest? Nationally? Or internationally? You decide what
    is appropriate for you.

6. Develop your marketing strategy and activities aimed at
your target market

  • Volunteer for cross-functional teams and company-wide
    task forces

  • Share ideas and trend information with others and solicit
    advice from them

  • Take on leadership or committee roles in professional

  • Attend conferences and continuing education events, even
    if you have to pay for them

  • Write articles for company or professional publications

  • Present to peers on topics related to your doing your
    jobs better

7. Define implementation strategies: What will you do, when,
what resources will you need, and what might be obstacles
to overcome?

8. Periodically evaluate marketing efforts and modify them
if needed: What’s working? What do you need to do differently?
Do you need to do more, or scale back your efforts?

After the first draft of your personal marketing plan is
committed to writing, discuss it with at least three people
you respect such as a mentor, colleague or spouse. Incorporate
their feedback and suggestions, and then begin to implement
your plan. As you make progress, evaluate your results and
revise your plan accordingly.

Perhaps the late Johnny Carson, comedian and long-time
host of “The Tonight Show,” sums up the benefits
of marketing yourself: “Talent alone won’t make you
a success. Neither will being in the right place at the
right time - unless you are ready. The most important question
is - are you ready?”

© Copyright 2007, Career Vision / Ball Foundation. Article
may be reprinted with permission.

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