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Marketing You and Your Career

Imagine if a business invested years into the research, design, and creation of a new product, and then failed to tell anybody about it. What if the company assumed (even expected) that consumers should discover their new product, just because it was â??greatâ??? Flawed logic, right? Yet, thatâ??s how many people treat their careers! They spend years learning a trade, gaining education, and writing resumes - but do nothing to promote themselves. In fact, they assume others should recognize them just because they show up and do a good job. What they donâ??t assume is accountability for their own career.

No matter what business youâ??re in, YOU are the product! Here are six tips on how to market yourself from Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust.

Be Accountable. You, and only you, are responsible for your career. Itâ??s not enough to do what is required, or even go above and beyond. You must take the next step and let people know about your strengths and accomplishments! You might think itâ??s your bossâ?? job to notice all that you do. It would be nice to have that individual attention. But, the reality is, bosses have too much to do â?" so why make your future someone elseâ??s responsibility? If key decision-makers donâ??t your name, introduce yourself.

Marketing, not Bragging. The thought of marketing yourself can feel uncomfortable if you associate it with bragging. Actually, the two couldnâ??t be more different. Braggers put all the attention on themselves, boasting about how wonderful they are. Marketers focus on the needs of others and then share how they might be able to assist. When done properly, marketing is seen as being useful and helpful while bragging comes off as distasteful and self-focused. Itâ??s the difference between a telemarketer using high-pressure sales tactics to get you to buy versus really needing something and appreciating the assistance of a helpful sales person.

Benefits, Benefits, Benefits. The most important distinction for marketing yourself is understanding the difference between features and benefits. Features are descriptive characteristics and skills (i.e. strong presentation skills or special computer training). Benefits are what those features can do for someone else (i.e. strong presentation skills means you could help earn the company more money through outside presentations). Features mean nothing unless you can show how they benefit others. Do you buy a product based on its features â?" or what those features can do for you? Traditional resumes are full of features. Turn yours into benefits.

Five minutes a day. Marketing is a long-term investment. The biggest payoff comes by investing a little bit everyday, even when you donâ??t think itâ??s necessary. In fact, the most important time to market is when things are going well. Your confidence and passion are high, and thatâ??s contagious. Waiting until you need good press puts you in an underdog, desperate position. So, commit at least five minutes a day to the marketing of your career. Think of it as self-preservation!

Name Recognition. When someone hears your name, what three words do they associate with you? People make associations based on what they see and hear about you. While you canâ??t control other people, you can control what you share about yourself. If you want to be thought of as trustworthy, then donâ??t gossip. If you want to be known as a problem solver, then share ideas, not complaints. Behave consistently with the image you want to project.

Spread the Word. Take action today. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Use your e-mailâ??s signature file to attach a description that positions you in a beneficial way. That could be your job title, a personal vision statement like, â??Excellence with Every Endeavor,â?? or an invitation to visit your Web site.

2. Update your voice-mail message daily. Why? Because most people donâ??t! It takes all of 30-seconds to change your greeting to include the day and date, and let callers know when to expect a return call. Or, if youâ??re out, let people know so that theyâ??re not angry with you for not calling back. I promise you, if you do this one step, people will respond in a positive way!

3. If your company or professional organization has a newsletter, offer to write a short article. Putting your name in print next to helpful information positions you as an expert. Be sure to keep a copy for a â??successâ?? portfolio.

4. Be on the lookout for tips or articles that could be helpful to your colleagues. Cut them out and pass them along with a note (and business card) saying, â??Saw this and thought of you. Hope you can use it.â?? Again, itâ??s a subliminal way to position yourself as a benefit to others.

5. Any time youâ??ve received an award or accomplished new training, submit a short press release along with your picture to the business section of your local newspaper, college alumni magazine, company newsletters, and associations.

6. When people casually ask, â??How are you?â?? use the opportunity to slip in one line about something youâ??re doing. An example is, â??Iâ??m doing great. I just attended a sales seminar, and Iâ??m excited about what I learned. How are you?â?? If what youâ??re doing piqued the listenerâ??s interest, youâ??ll be invited to share more with a follow-up question.

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor, communications expert, and author of Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust ($5.00). She can be reached through her Web site at http://www.susanfee.com

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