Updated: Sep 21, 2019
"I can categorically state that I hate marketing and networking. I am not good at it. I don't like it."
I used to say these words all the time. I am not quite that categoric these days thankfully.
I first started to notice a shift in my approach to marketing after a conversation with a friend. I had said something on Facebook about being surprised at how much I enjoyed an evening of networking - and I really was surprised because I really had found myself chatting easily with a number of people at the event.
But what opened my eyes was the comment that my friend made, which was "But you have always been great at building relationships and putting people at ease, and that's half the job done. If you see marketing as an exchange of business cards alone, well then you are missing the point".
In the last 18 months I have had to get really comfortable with marketing and along the way I have learned three key lessons that are helping me change my perspective on what it means to market and dare I say... perhaps even enjoy the process.
Lesson 1: Share your knowledge freely and be the person that is known for having that knowledge
These days pretty much anything can be Googled. So holding on to knowledge is a little short sighted.
I have learned in the last year that one of the best ways to market myself is by sharing my knowledge freely and have been doing so in my blogs, in presentations and workshops, in volunteering my time to graduate students, in contributing to publications and in looking for ways to collaborate wherever possible. It's also the easiest way for me to feel valuable and in the process feel comfortable talking about myself and what I do. In retrospect it makes sense to me because speaking at an event has always given me a sense of purpose for being at a networking function. It has also been an opportunity for me to be the person that others approached to talk to, rather than the other way around.
Lesson 2: Make it about them not about you
My coaching clients regularly say to me that they don't know what to say at networking events. And I say "Yup, I know how that feels".
And then we talk about how they could take the pressure off themselves if they made the conversation about the other person. While it is very awkward to walk up to someone and say:"Hi, I am xyz and I do abc and I can help you with 123", its a lot easier to walk up to someone and say "Hi, I am xyz. What brought you to this workshop today?"
By asking questions that give someone the opportunity to talk about themselves it not only takes the pressure off you, but instantly gives the other person a sense of being recognised and being important, and gives you the opportunity to learn about them and how you could possibly be of service to them. If you want to be of value to anyone, you need to know what they value.
Lesson 3: View marketing as a process not an event
When I view marketing as an event or a once-off activity where I am required to land a sale, I shy away immediately.
But in the last year I have realised that marketing myself is more about building relationships and consistently nurturing and growing those relationships through listening, asking questions, clarifying my understanding, sharing my knowledge getting to know what other people value so that I can be of service to them, connecting people with each other, and building a community of like minded individuals. This is clearly not something that can be achieved in one single event!
I have started to look at marketing as a series of stepping stones towards a goal rather than an event that needs to pay off immediately. The consistent thread across all the stepping stones is relationships: developing and strengthening relationships, building trust and credibility, being congruent in my words and actions, being clear about who I am and what message I want to send to the world. And the stepping stones are each individual event with their own objectives and micro-goals.
So in the business of being you, how is all of this relevant?
So often we equate marketing with something that you do if you run your own business or if you are looking for a job. But if you see yourself as the CEO of your career then being able to position yourself as an expert is critical. In a world where technical skills are no longer enough, being known as someone who is competent, who generously shares their knowledge and who shows interest in serving over selling can only be good for your long term career success.
What one action can you take this week to enhance how you market yourself?
I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.
I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.
I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.
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