8 Steps to Marketing Yourself in Today's Economy Savvy employees know that they need to go beyond just working hard and hoping someone recognizes them for new opportunities or promotions. It is critical that individuals, young and old, learn to market themselves, which is one of the Career Literacy™ skills needed to be successful in today's workplace. Even students who seek internships and first jobs can begin with the basics of marketing themselves and benefit from being in the right place at the right time with the right people. A famous quote supports this: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity." Marketing yourself creates "luck." What does "marketing yourself" really mean? What are the benefits of marketing yourself as a competent resource both inside and outside your organization? And what steps do you take to market yourself? When marketing yourself, think of yourself as the "product" and what you can do as the "service." It's your responsibility to identify what expertise you can offer to your "customer." For employees, your customer is your manager and company, and for those in job search, your customer is a potential hiring manager in another company. The challenge is that the workplace and its players keep changing, so the activities needed to build the relationships needed for marketing yourself must be consistent and ongoing. Sometimes when people hear the words "marketing yourself," they say it makes them feel queasy in the pit of their stomachs. Often, it is because they think of marketing as pushing yourself on other people, empty socializing, and superficial small talk. On the contrary, effective marketing creates a pull for your expertise. You establish yourself as an expert in your area and people recognize you for your talents. Developing the skills for marketing oneself has become increasingly important as the complexity and change in the workplace has accelerated. Even for talented, competent people, it's a buyer's market. Individuals always benefit by making themselves more attractive candidates, whether inside or outside their organizations. Workers are more mobile, changing jobs, managers, employers, and geographic locations frequently, so they constantly have to educate others on their capabilities and experience. Jobs disappear due to advances in technology, outsourcing, or off-shoring options, so individuals are in the job market more often. On the other hand, people skilled at marketing themselves are first to hear news of emerging opportunities in their company or field, like working on virtual international teams or learning a new technology. There is also a positive personal impact that results from marketing yourself. You can accomplish your personal and professional goals more easily and often faster. In addition, you can find opportunities to contribute your expertise more quickly and, in fact, have the opportunities find you. You will reap benefits of increased visibility, employability, and career resiliency. The process of marketing yourself creates options and choices for you as well, because you hear about them sooner. The process of marketing yourself can be similar to the kind of marketing plan developed for a product or service. Here is an eight-step Personal Marketing Plan Template, based on a business marketing plan, to guide you: 1. Define your mission and the benefits you offer Start with self knowledge: natural talents (aptitudes), interests, personality and values Consider what role fits your best: generalist or specialist or a combination Ask yourself, "What do I have to offer?" 2. Set your marketing objective: What exactly do you want to achieve? Be specific, make it measurable, make it realistic, and build in a timeline with deadlines. 3. Design performance measures: What will be the observable, objective indicators that show that you are accomplishing or have accomplished your goal? 4. Gather analyze, and interpret information about your situation ("SWOT Analysis": For a detailed chart of questions for this analysis, email us with your request.) Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses: How do you stack up against your competition? Identify external opportunities and threats: What trends may affect you and your career positively or negatively? 5. Identify your target markets: Who needs to know you, your capabilities, and professional goals? This may mean that you focus your efforts on key managers, mentors or human resources staff solely within your organization, or that you broaden your outreach through membership in professional organizations, depending on your goal. Also include the geographic scope of where you want to market yourself, for example, the Chicagoland area? The Midwest? Nationally? Or internationally? You decide what is appropriate for you. 6. Develop your marketing strategy and activities aimed at your target market Volunteer for cross-functional teams and company-wide task forces Share ideas and trend information with others and solicit advice from them Take on leadership or committee roles in professional organizations Attend conferences and continuing education events, even if you have to pay for them Write articles for company or professional publications Present to peers on topics related to your doing your jobs better 7. Define implementation strategies: What will you do, when, what resources will you need, and what might be obstacles to overcome? 8. Periodically evaluate marketing efforts and modify them if needed: What's working? What do you need to do differently? Do you need to do more, or scale back your efforts? After the first draft of your personal marketing plan is committed to writing, discuss it with at least three people you respect such as a mentor, colleague or spouse. Incorporate their feedback and suggestions, and then begin to implement your plan. As you make progress, evaluate your results and revise your plan accordingly. Perhaps the late Johnny Carson, comedian and long-time host of "The Tonight Show," sums up the benefits of marketing yourself: "Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will be in the right place at the right time - unless you are ready. The most important question is - are you ready?"