The most critical skill entrepreneurs are obliged to master is marketing. The success of a product or service, after all, relies on your willingness to market it. Yet today’s entrepreneurs must be as committed in selling themselves as their goods and services to be genuinely effective in selling.
Geraldo Matos, assistant professor of marketing at the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business at Roger Williams University, says: “ says Geraldo Matos, assistant professor of marketing at Roger Williams University’s Mario J. Gabelli School of Business. As much as anything else, what you’re selling them is your competence, your reliability, your commitment, etc. Being able to powerfully communicate that is paramount.”
Yet the concept of “selling yourself” is not exclusive to entrepreneurs anymore. Being able to express your personal identity and distinctive meaning efficiently is as critical in corporate environments; as it is in industry. Both career seekers and workers must find innovative ways to prove their merit, exhibit their finer skills and skills in today’s highly competitive work market and business climate; and be known as top employees that can bring value to their niche.
This is exactly where even the most experienced specialists fail. A Google search shows around 250,000 results with the expression “how to sell myself.” People are asking for information on the right way to market themselves. Professionals must instead reimagine the idea of marketing themselves rather than a merely communicative act of “talking up yourself,”; rewire their approach to reflect on who they actually are and the special benefit they might give to prospective employers or colleagues. In other words, how do practitioners describe their significance in more concrete terms and express it? For both professionals looking to join an industry and those wishing to progress in their field, I give some ideas.
Lead with your soft skills
When employers meet you, they first encounter who you are, not what you can do. To effectively communicate your value, start with who you are as a person; not what you know and definitely not your academic credentials and pedigree. Instead, lead with your soft skills. Soft skills are personal attributes, attitudes and character traits that define one’s personality and general disposition. Less specialized and rooted in specific vocations, they are essentially “social skills” that help to decide whether one can interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
Make sure you can hack it
Although Human Resource managers are now prioritizing soft skills, recruiters also want to reap tangible benefits from hiring candidates. To communicate your value to potential employers, aim to demonstrate that you can actually get the job done. To do this, foreground your specific occupational skills, knowledge and expertise and your prior experience that help to illustrate your hard skills. Hard skills are “technical knowledge or training that you have gained through any life experience, including your career or education.’’
Your hard skills are critical because they show your proficiency in areas where prior knowledge and skills are essential. They also communicate to employers that you can execute the roles and responsibilities of a specific job. In today’s job market, good workers and candidates with highly specialized skills are hard to find. Your suite of hard skills must therefore be a strong part of the evidence you bring to the table. To communicate your value, aim to show how your skills increase productivity or efficiency; how your knowledge can be applied to the organization and generally how employers can benefit from their encounter with you.
It is not enough to demonstrate your hard and soft skills. To communicate your value, it is essential to take stock of the areas in which you are most competitive, what marketers call your “unique value proposition” (UVP). A UVP essentially “describes your value, to whom you provide that value, and what makes you different from your competition”, says Founder of Clickx, Solomon Thimothy. Thimothy was referring to entrepreneurs keen to grow a successful and sustainable business and their obligation to know their unique value to position their product or service as the best possible option in the marketplace. It is also critical for job seekers to define the concrete variables that set them apart from competitors in their field before aiming to sell themselves.
Know the pain points your competencies solve
Once you land a position, the need to communicate your value does not stop. It is on the job that it becomes even more critical to communicate your value to your employer. Showing your worth immediately puts you in line for promotions and other growth opportunities. A valued employee is also in the best position to survive painful company changes such as downsizing. There are two surefire ways to illustrate your value to your employer. The first is to contribute good work — be productive, demonstrate good leadership skills and effectively get things done. The second is to solve problems.
To communicate your value, help to provide solutions to the most pressing problems confronting your organization or industry. Aim to align your competencies with your organization’s priorities; key projects and goals and show the positive results of your efforts. Come up with fresh ideas, a new way of doing things or offer a new perspective. It shows your employer what you can deliver, offers insights into your vision and ideas as well as helps you remain relevant in your field.
A key aspect of communicating your value lies not just in your exceptional performance but in your visibility. Many professionals are unquestionable “performers.” They put their head down and do their work. They see themselves as “quiet leaders” and efficient workers who produce results for their employers. They believe that their work speaks for them. Unfortunately, it does not. Being visible is critical to communicating your value because it establishes your presence within your target market; and being seen as a credible expert in your field. There are multiple ways to become more visible in your niche including assuming leadership opportunities, amplifying your voice through speaking engagements and demonstrating thought leadership by sharing your passion, knowledge and expertise through books or blogs as well as leading conversations in your niche on social media. Being an expert is not what you know, it is what you share.
While maintaining a social presence may sound like an undertaking for the marketing staff; and while there are marketing tactics involved, being fluent and participating in the process is becoming more critical for sales reps and teams. Social selling is proven to drive new leads, foster relationships, and improve overall productivity by leveraging social media to interact with prospects directly.