If you've read Free Money Finance for more than two seconds you've probably heard me say that your career is your most important financial asset. I've also noted the steps you should take to grow your career (see posts in my career sections prior to 2008, for 2008, for 2009, and for 2010 for details) including the fact that you should be regularly marketing yourself as part of your plan to develop your career.
This last point was recently covered by Seth Godin when he said that self marketing might be the most important kind of marketing. His thoughts:
What story do you tell yourself about yourself?
Do you have an elevator pitch that reminds you that you're a struggling fraud, certain to be caught and destined to fail? Are you marketing a perspective and an attitude of generosity? When you talk to yourself, what do you say?
You've learned through experience that frequency works. That minds can be changed. That powerful stories have impact.
I guess, then, the challenge is to use those very same tools on yourself.
It's an interesting concept -- marketing yourself -- and one that needs to be thought about and implemented if you want to make the most of your career.
Here's the (somewhat ideal) way to deliver on what he's talking about IMO:
1. Develop a 30-second brand statement (a "promise" of what you do/are). Here's an example of one (it needs some word-smithing, but I'm writing to demonstrate a point here. If you were to have a brand statement, you'd need to spend a good amount of time and effort on it):
I'm a marketing executive that delivers results for my company. I balance creativity with critical thinking to develop new and profitable programs. I combine these with judgment developed through two decades of business experiences and accomplishments. I am always on the lookout for ideas to benefit my company and deliver value. As a co-worker, I am known for both my competence and likeability. My peers, subordinates, and superiors respect my opinion and enjoy working with me.
Notice this is not necessarily what you are doing now, but it's an ideal you're shooting for.
2. Once you have the brand statement, list the actions you're taking to deliver it. There's a lot promised in the example above, and to deliver on it the owner will need to come up with some great ideas, handle himself in a certain way on a daily basis, and so on. Write down what your "deliverables" are and what specific steps you're talking to make them happen.
3. Be sure your statement and your actions are in line with what your employer wants/expects from you. If they aren't, you'll be wasting your time and effort. So if they don't match what your employer demands, you'll either need to change them or find a new job.
4. Check yourself along the way. Have regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly) where you evaluate yourself compared to your ideals. Are you delivering or not? What changes do you need to make to be sure you are on track? Adjust accordingly.
If you take these steps (or anything even remotely close to them), my experience is that your career will thrive, you will advance much faster than the normal employee, and your compensation will be much greater than those of the masses as well. In addition, you'll likely be happier and more satisfied with your career.
So, what are you doing to market yourself?