Top tips and tools for marketing yourself
Here are some things to do that will help you to promote yourself and your abilities to others. Keep in mind that, in journalism, you will need to adapt it depending on whom you are talking to and what you can or want to do for them.
- Look to the future: create a clear vision for where you'd like to be in six months, one year and two years' time. This may be a change from where you are now. What kinds of work would you like to be doing? Who would you work with? What organisations? Where? What would your financial and job satisfaction goals be?
- Skills audit: write a list of all your skills and abilities. What are all the things you can do? What are the things on this list that you want to do, to concentrate on? What are you best at? What do you enjoy most? What are your transferrable skills?
- Strengths and weaknesses: what are your natural abilities? If you asked a friend or line manager, what would they say? What aren't you good at or need to develop?
- Your unique selling points: concentrate on your strengths and summarise the first three tips into a concise, powerful statement of two or three lines. It could provide the answers to the questions "what makes you different from others?" or "why should we hire you"?
- Who are your potential clients: can you divide them into groups and sectors? What can you offer them? Prepare a list of them. What do they want and what do they need? What can you do for them?
- Elevator pitch: prepare a 30-second introduction for someone you don't know. Keep it concise and upbeat – who you are, what you do, value/benefits, what you are looking for next, so they say “how interesting, tell me more.” Remember that first impressions count. Be clear and confident – know who you are, what you are good at and where you want to be. Help them to help you – and remember you.
- Contact management system: put together a system with names, contact details, prior conversations and when you'll next be in touch. You can use Outlook, Excel or a card system. List all the people in your network; include all those from organisations you've worked in and from your past - even going back to university days. The Internet should make it possible to find them again. Make a separate list all of the companies and "potential clients" you want to keep in touch with.
- Marketing and action plan: list all the things you want to do and people you want to contact, professional meetings to attend and web groups you want to follow. Include them in a weekly and monthly action plan for the next six months.
- Marketing materials: add a sign-off to your emails of three words or a sentence that summarises your unique selling points from point 4. Have a business card that also includes your "strap-line" or what you do. Put together a one- or two-page functional or skills-based CV (i.e. what you can do, can offer others, plus a short summary of your background). Does your website also communicate these messages? Make sure your online information is up-to-date on freelance websites such as Linkedin.
- Increase your networking and visibility: remember that recommendations and referrals will be the way you get most of your work, so the key will be increasing your networking and continuing to build on it. People need to know – and be reminded of – who you are and how you can help. Find ways to get yourself known using all the new channels that social networking sites provide: i.e. join relevant groups to keep up to date, make comments, connect with others and build your reputation.