I am being asked a lot how to “sell yourself”. As much as I love sales, this is a hard question. But given I’m on my own now and pitching my wares daily, here’s what I have learned so far.
1) Understand What the World Sees- You will be Googled. Have you Googled yourself? What comes up and is it accurate? Check out your LinkedIn profile. Even double check your Instagram if it’s public. What does the online world convey about you? Could you start building your own content library that sets you apart? Post an article you write to showcase your point of view or expertise on a particular topic (try using Medium or Word Press or LinkedIn to self-publish). Take beautiful shots on Instagram. This is the moment to control your narrative.
2) Be Authentically You- Here’s the moment where you truly have to believe you are a special snowflake or no one else will. What do you bring to the table that’s different? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Think of yourself as a product and write a self-description. Mine would be: Innovative thought leader who can multi-task but will never have a clean desk. She has a knack for ticketing but is not as strong at identifying strong visual creative and is best paired with someone who is detail-driven and task oriented.Think of it as a description for you on a dating app when you honestly want to find the right match.
3) Confidence is Key- Look in the mirror. This is your biggest fan. No one cares about your career or your success more than you. Cheer yourself on. if you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, how can others have confidence in you? It’s the little things people notice. Adjust your posture. Be thoughtful in what you say. Look your best. And the true secret, put in some headphones and listen to music that pumps you up before a pitch meeting or interview. (Lizzo’s entire new album is my current “go to” playlist and lately, I’m killing it.)
4) Build a Brand- Ok, this feels a little silly but hear me out. Steve Jobs had the black turtlenecks, Mark Zuckerberg had the hoodie. What’s your style? Sometimes it’s not what we plan out but just who we inherently are. It’s how a friend might describe you to a stranger. I never thought much about my smile but that’s how most people remember me, “Red hair, great smile”. I’ve heard worse. But a brand is beyond looks, what adjectives come to mind when others describe your personality. Driven? Ambitious? Honest? Thoughtful? Messy? Clumsy? — All of those have been used to describe me. It’s the good and the bad. Always own it.
5) Do Good Work- I don’t care how good the package is, it’s what’s inside that counts. There is no way to better sell yourself then to do good work and do so consistently. The harder I work, the further I have moved up the ladder. I’ve learned from the mistakes I have made and keep going. When someone recognizes you for your contributions to a project or a for how you lead a team, the rest is gravy. If you’re a performer, go audition. If you’re a writer, put your work out there. If you’re an accountant, take great care to save your clients money. Figure out your super power and do that daily.
6) Know You Aren’t the Right Spice for Everyone- Everyone has a favorite Beatle or Spice Girl. (I may have nothing against George but prefer Ringo and I’m Ginger Spice forever-”red heads unite”.) Understand that not everyone is going to click with you or like your style. It’s ok. You’ll be the only person for some people. Don’t be discouraged by the potential clients or bosses you don’t connect with. Find the people you click right into and embrace that. If you do end up on a project with someone who is not a fan, make sure you earn their respect. Do great work, be fair and kind.
It’s hard to feel like you are constantly proving yourself. But you have to wake up every day with a renewed sense of purpose. Don’t forget to try and do something that makes you happy. All the work will be worth it.