A Case For Personal Visibility
Pitching is the primary means by which marketers and advertisers capture new business. Pitches come in all shapes and sizes depending on the opportunity. We’ve all endured them, failed at them and won some great business because of them. In between those pitches, are you neglecting other ways to connect with your marketplace? In my experience, being visible is an important trait to pursue. Being out there, being visible and getting known as a person can be just as important as any pitch you will ever give.
How many times have you attended a seminar, a conference or a panel discussion, read the biographies of the presenters and came away saying, “I didn’t know that”? In the communications business, neglecting ourselves is a sin. In many cases, you are your company. Why would you promote one and forget the other?
I’ve been building my personal brand for many years now and offer the following tips to help make you more visible in the marketplace. You don’t have to follow all of them, but if you conquer one or two, you’ll likely be ahead of the pack.
Always keep writing. You’re an expert, and people want to know what you know. A blog is no longer a luxury; I believe it’s a necessity. What topics come to mind that will engage readers? Should your blog be more educational than conversational?
If you’re comfortable at the keyboard, then great. Or you may decide to use an editor to polish your writing. My early writings were a collaboration with an editor. If I started writing content, she would fix any grammar issues. Conversely, if she started the piece, she would send it to me to put it in my tone of voice. It was a great arrangement that resulted in placement in national trade publications, which led to writing assignments for new clients.
Write for media outlets, such as industry publications and news outlets, and become a resource for reporters. Publish your work far and wide. You’ll know that you’ve been successful when someone says, “I saw your column the other day — great stuff.”
What better way to engage prospects than being in front of a room full of them? Not everyone is comfortable standing up in front of 50, 100 or 1,000 or more people as an expert. If that’s you, my best advice is to treat speaking opportunities as a pitch. In one place, at one time, you can multiply the power of one pitch. The subject matter almost doesn’t matter — you’ll be remembered and seen as an expert.
Join, join, join. Join every organization, group or initiative that puts you at the table with potential clients and gives them the opportunity to learn about you and your company. A friend of mine says, “I can’t possibly do another rubber chicken event.” That’s certainly not what I’m suggesting; the same friend has developed criteria for evaluating whether she should attend. Ask yourself: “How much of my time can I devote?” “Will I be competing for attention?” “Is this a center of influence that I need to be in?” Be a bit of a detective and do some research. It will save you valuable time and effort.
I’ve found that seeking out C-level and professional organizations will likely be more valuable — some might say invaluable — to you in the long run. For example, if your focus is marketing for legal practices, join the local bar association as an affiliate, get on a committee or two and attend their functions. The same goes for any market you’re trying to penetrate. By being selective about what you join, you can avoid the typical breakfast networking groups that aren’t typically attended by many decision makers.
We all have to eat. Just don’t eat alone. Make it a mission to meet new people at least two or three times a week. I happen to be a lunch guy, but sometimes a breakfast or coffee date is just as good.
The key, however, is not to talk too much about business. Start with questions like, “Where did you go to school?” “Where did you grow up?” “Do you live locally?” “What does relaxation mean to you?” Try to cultivate a conversation that’s warm, friendly and personal. Even if you know a lot about your companion, ask these questions. They can help you connect with a person’s personal side. These questions transcend all stations and positions and can help you create a much stronger and deeper relationship.
An interesting aside is that when you give people the opportunity to talk about themselves, and you listen, they tend to think more highly of you. Several of my clients who’ve met me for lunch are now among my best friends and are my biggest advocates because we broke bread together.
Personal visibility in the marketplace can raise your stature, get you known to many and, by extension, make you more valuable to your company. The better your brand, the more you will be recognized. The more you are recognized, the more you will be asked to get involved in new projects. Your personal brand is like a passport to new and exciting clients and campaigns.