For those who own a small business or are involved in contract work, finding time for self-promotion can be tough if not daunting (many creative people are familiar with the term “starving artist”). You may feel like you have no time to market yourself for the next project because you need to keep grinding away on your current project. As I have said to associates on numerous occasions, “It is hard to balance time on the street with time in the seat“. The following material is adapted from a presentation by an acquaintance, Nancy Birnbaum-Gerber of Stepping Stones.
Building Your Foundation
No matter your profession, do whatever you can to keep your skills sharp. Stay updated with current and emerging trends within your field of expertise. Read, study, research, and talk with peers. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Garner advisers or a mentor to assist in personal and professional growth.
Act Like a Pro
Always be punctual to meetings or on phone calls. Be responsible and easy to work with. Cultivate a service-centered attitude and do not be afraid of “going the extra mile.” Make yourself accessible and verbalize any expectation you have of yourself or others. Develop quality promotional materials that look professional.
Create and Maintain Your Relationships
Organize your contact files and keep them current. Look for every opportunity to hand out a business card. Take part in professional organizations. As time permits, get involved with community and non-profit groups. Ask for referrals and leads for new business.
Brainstorm a list of phrases or adjectives that describe you and what you do. Focus on what makes you distinctive. Write a short phrase that is an accurate description of you and your work.
Next, list groups and individuals who need what you have to offer. Then list at least 10 ways these people can benefit from you and how you can let them know about these benefits. Be sure to study your competition.
Listen more than talk. Discover what it is that people need and then show them how you can fulfill their needs. Handle any objections straight on. If you cannot fulfill their need, recommend someone who can. Remember the principle: treat others the way you want to be treated.
Low Cost Promotion
Tell everyone what you’re doing — send out emails or write on your blog. As stated above, always carry business cards for handing out. Create low budget flyers to hand out or mail. Use your unique descriptive phrase to introduce yourself at networking meetings.
Keep in Mind
Self promotion is never ending. Keep looking for new approaches, opportunities, or ideas for getting the word out. Listen and learn from others. Always have a backup plan if your first does not work. Learn from your mistakes.
Finally, these nuggets of truth should be taken to heart for small and large companies alike. Remember, pick a few to start with and then apply them in your work situation. Once you have mastered a few, move on to a few more. Application is the key in any endeavor like this — don’t just talk about doing it, DO IT!