I have learned something about myself this past year. It is actually kind of embarrassing. So much so, that to overcome I am going to write about it. I 100% stink at promoting my own brand. I actually have a line I use in all my interviews….”I am terrible at my own brand, but I can deliver on the marketing and branding of my clients.” To which I then turn over letters of reference.
Why? How can I be a marketing gal and not know how to market myself? Let’s start here. What a pretty picture. A story about one of my companies. The Sherwood Gazette has made an appointment to come and interview me about my shop. I know the time and I think, “I can quickly finish painting this sign.” While most would be in the mirror trying on the right outfit, and doing hair and make up I am in my paint clothes. I did have a clean shirt to change into, but that never happened. When the interviewer left I was, once again, faced with the reality that I suck at promoting myself.
I have been very blessed with an enriching career. I have worked mostly on referrals. I did not understand the blessings of referrals until I took a detour out of the Portland area for a few years into a tiny little community. My first consulting job in that community came by way of taking a hike up a mountain with a local business owner. She later hired me for a small project. Another gig was through Skip To My Room. I got to know a local artist who later hired me to assist and teach her how to market her business. I did not have to really go and look for work. Even while living in this small community I came into three more consulting jobs outside of town through what? Referrals.
But then one day, that small community had to much snow and ice to get into the city for meetings which altered taking in more work. I soon learned that there was not enough work in a tiny little town. So back to Portland I came and sitting at my desk asking myself….”gosh how do I market myself?” I love social media, I am good at marketing and branding, I know how to do all this great work for my clients but for myself. It feels kind of like bragging. It feels dirty and wrong. Look at me. Look at me. Over here. I can do this for you, and that for you. You see when you work on referrals, someone has already come along and bragged on your work. Someone has already spoke on behalf of your credibility.
The question is simple. How do you market yourself? How do you, as the face of your brand, market the work you do?
In the past three months I have been hired by a company that had nothing to do with work. I sat next to the owner at a picnic. She asked what I do. I shared. The kind of sharing that went something like this, “I work to help companies tell their stories and branding and marketing kind of stuff.” I am at a picnic in shorts and flip-flops. I have most likely had a couple of hard ciders and this is not a working event. Yet a few months later they contacted me. I also have a company I worked with from five years ago. Five years ago they found me through another client. They are ready for some more cocktails of marketing and branding. And now another project is facing me. All came by way of being out and about, here and there. Could this possibly be my business strategy?
How do you market yourself? By being yourself. How do you market the work you do? Do a swell enough job that someone else is doing the talking for you. However I am going to take this a step further. Because I asked these people why? Why they ultimately hired me. In six specific cases, without knowing my client list, or seeing my work they “heard” about me. A trusted friend, a trusted colleague, a trusted former client all sharing their company success after having hired a consultant, me. Are you worth talking about by others? What happened for me, is that, by nature I am a social person. I invited all of my clients into my personal social space. Outside of the work that I do, they see I am a devoted mother. They see my hobbies, my interests and my passions. And through those interactions on social media a level of trust is built around my character. Trust is because in reading your public postings…you communicate more of who you are personally and professionally. I mean, really look at my Twitter feed. How “professionally” positioned is that. NOT!! But you might get to know more of my personality.
Now back to the simple fact that I still stink at personally marketing myself. My best advice is be your real authentic self in all your social media platforms and those looking in will either like what they see or not. And those who do like what they see will end up taking you out for drinks to learn the knitty-gritty of what you have to offer.
Be who you are online as you are in real time.
And if someone wants to interview you, might I suggest you hold off on the painting project until afterwards and clean yourself up a bit. @elizabethtraub
If you would love to have me work on behalf of your next project please do not hesitate to contact me. I do keep my Facebook public so you can look in and get to know more of me. Message me or contact me HERE.