“You have to be the one promoting yourself. If you don’t think that you’re worthy, you’re never going to make it.” — Misty Copeland, professional dancer
Picture this: You’ve taken some time for self-discovery, you’ve defined your goals and greatest strengths, and you’re prepped with your self-marketing tools. Now it’s time to put your plan in motion, whether that means seeking a new job or finding ways to progress at your current position. Self-promotion is an ongoing process that can benefit you whether you’re actively job searching or content with your situation.
Are you introducing yourself to the decision-makers?
Much of self-promotion happens through networking, the process of connecting with professional peers to exchange information and develop contacts. Throughout your career, you will meet many people who have the ability to boost your professional growth and development. Building these relationships starts with introducing yourself to the right people. The right person could be an influential manager at a company you’d like to work for or someone whose career path you would also like to follow. You may know some of these people already, so start by reconnecting with them and expanding your reach from there.
How will you follow up?
A key aspect of networking is maintaining relationships over time. A professional network doesn’t have the same expectations as your personal life, so don’t worry about getting overwhelmed with weekly calls or lunch every month for most contacts. It’s normal to go a few months or longer between check-ins with professional contacts unless you’re in a special circumstance that demands more time. However, when you are expanding your network or actively working towards a change, affirming connections is more important. Especially as you make new contacts, it is vital to cement connections by following up in a timely, authentic way.
There are many ways to follow up, and the type of response needed depends on your initial – or most recent – interaction. For example, if you were introduced to someone at an industry event and would like to keep the connection live, your follow-up may be as simple as an email or LinkedIn message. In this sort of follow-up, you should take care to reference something from your conversation, such as something you learned from them or a shared interest. When connecting on LinkedIn with a recent contact, take the time to include a similar personalized message. If the person you are following up with has done you some sort of favor, such as making time for an informational interview or setting you up on a new project, make time to reciprocate as much as possible. An exact exchange may not be possible, but you should make sure contacts are aware that you’re available to return favors.
Are you networking to find employers?
The most common goal of networking is to find work, whether that means a new job, new clients, or a new project. Cultivating a strong professional network is valuable regardless of your current circumstance, but chances are, at some point, you’ll want to use it to make your next move. Individual contacts should give you a set of strong connections at companies and organizations that you may want to work for. While even the widest web of contacts doesn’t guarantee any particular job, it does give you access to the hidden job market – the many open positions that never get advertised publicly. A robust network has a greater chance of yielding tip-offs, recommendations, and referrals.
Successful self-promotion requires continual effort, and there are many different approaches to the process. Here are some suggested books if you want to learn more:
Set up a virtual meeting with one of our certified Career Coaches through the Book a Learning Coach form or by calling 803-929-3400. After you submit, we will contact you to set an appointment. Our team provides help with interviewing skills, your résumé, interest/skills assessments, and more. Follow Richland Library on LinkedIn for career development tips and tidbits.