By Nia Simone McLeod
Most people aren’t comfortable with promoting themselves, in fear of looking too aggressive or boastful. But, the truth is, mastering self-promotion is an important step towards achieving your professional goals. In today’s technological age, practicing self-promotion both online and in-person gives you the best chance at achieving success and elevating your personal brand. In honor of Self-Improvement Month, founded by international business speaker Debbie Allen, here are some tips behind promoting yourself both online and in-person.
- Know Your Audience, and Follow Them
In a world as endless as the internet, it can be hard to figure out what avenue is best when you’re looking to promote yourself. The best way to focus in your online marketing is to figure out where your audience is spending their time on the internet. If you work in an industry that caters to a teenage audience, it may be best to market yourself on Snapchat, since studies show that 83% of U.S. teens use Snapchat at least once a month. If you’re looking to reach other professionals or businesses in your area, it may be best to market on LinkedIn, due to its 500 million member strong user base of professionals. It’s always best to do some research beforehand to make sure that you’re fishing in the right ponds.
- Get a Website
Having a professional website can be just as important as having a resume or a business card. It’s a one-stop shop of all your accomplishments, and it can also include your portfolio or business references. Creating a specific place on the internet that’s just for you gives you an easy link to share around when people inevitably ask, “So what do you do?” Most website builders, like Wix and Squarespace, have free options available to you. But, if you’re looking for a custom URL or the ability to add multiple pages, then you’ll have to pay a monthly or yearly fee on your preferred platform.
- Create Content
A great way to get your name and what you do out there is to create content specializing in your field. Whether you work in child care, automotive repair, or fashion design, you have the knowledge to create content surrounding your particular expertise. Write about it; post on social media about it; you can even make videos about it! Whatever it is, creating something interactive will give it a better chance at being shared, liked, and commented on. You can host this content through your own website and post it on social media as well to reach a bigger audience. After you’re done creating, stick to a consistent schedule. This will give your followers something to look forward to throughout the week.
- Research Appropriate Hashtags
Often, if you’re not hashtagging your posts, then no one’s going to see it. In order to get your content out there, it’s important to research hashtags within your niche. You’ll want to reference key information like your location and industry. For others, look into the hashtags that other popular users in your preferred field are using already. If they’re gaining traction with those same hashtags, it might work for you as well. For example, if you’re a Richmond-based makeup artist looking to promote your fabulous looks, you should hashtag the general #makeup and #makeupartist as well as #rvamakeupartist and #rva to cater to those looking to get beautified in your area.
- Practice Your Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech is a 20-30 second commercial of sorts where you can express exactly what you do and what makes you unique. It can be hard to accomplish those goals in such a short amount of time, which makes it important that you practice your elevator speech. Write it out first and make sure that you mention important information throughout those precious 30 seconds. Then, practice it with friends and family first before you use it in a professional setting. As you practice, you may find yourself tweaking your elevator speech in order to find what exactly fits you. Also, practicing with other people helps you understand how to weave it naturally into a conversation to prevent sounding like you’re reading straight from a script.
- Promote Other People
If the idea of self-promotion still gives you the chills, try promoting other people first. As you collaborate with your coworkers, give credit where credit is due and shine a light on those who are working hard around you. At the end of the day, everyone’s looking to get acknowledged and appreciated. Once you get into the routine of promoting those around you, it may be easier to bring you and your accomplishments into the mix. Also, the good karma may come around and cause others to brag about you as well.
- Get a Business Card
A staple since as early as the 15th century, business cards are still one of the best ways to market yourself. They showcase all of your personal information and are straight to the point. Be sure to keep a couple in your wallet wherever you go, because you’ll never know when you’ll run into someone who could become a potential mentor, customer, or boss. If you’re in the market for a new business card, you can head over to an office supply store like Office Depot or Staples. Or, if you’re looking for an online solution that’ll ship the business cards straight to you, you can try a website like VistaPrint.
- Research Networking Events in Your Area
With your perfected elevator speech in mind and your business card in hand, the best thing that you can do is physically put yourself out there. Use websites like Facebook and Meetup to find appropriate events in your area. If you’re more shy or introverted, try to go with a friend who’ll help you start the conversation! Before you know it, you’ll be handing out your business cards in no time.
Whether you’re promoting yourself online or in-person, the most important thing to remember is to remain authentic. Self-promoting isn’t necessarily about creating someone brand new; it’s about being the best version of yourself. Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and utilize those strengths to promote yourself to the best of your ability. Do not think of self-promotion as something that only narcissists do; take it as a stepping stone to achieve your professional goals and let your work speak for you.