As the “gig” economy or freelance economy offers better paying jobs and more flexibility in work schedules, the level competition for full-time, part-time and freelance jobs alike will increase. To make yourself unbreakable and ensure that you have income for the life of your career, then you must learn to market yourself quickly.
Let me quickly define “marketing yourself” and “growth hacking” for you because they are two core concepts that you should understand in all of your personal branding efforts.
“Marketing yourself” is knowing how to take your skill set and wrap it into a neatly defined package for people to purchase. It’s also known as “personal branding” or “selling yourself.”
From a 10,000 foot view, “growth hacking” is a form of marketing that gets involved in every function of the business and works to create opportunities across multiple silos in the business. Traditional marketing practices focus on converting a large group of prospects into leads whereas growth hacking focuses on trying to find pockets of prospects or influencers in a particular area of expertise. Growth hacking allows for a more personalized sales process that converts more leads than does traditional marketing practices.
So now that we’ve defined “marketing yourself” and “growth hacking” let’s talk about how to bring these two concepts together to raise your visibility above the competition, get hired faster and earn more money.
1) Define “You”
Susannah Breslin, a highly innovative and successful freelance writer, says that she’s great at what she does because she knows how to sell herself. In order to sell yourself, you first have to know how to package and market yourself. To do this, you first have to define “you” for the marketplace. How do you do this?
We’re going to employ some basic growth hacking tactics to find out what the market wants to hear from us.
First, we’re going to use a tool called BuzzSumo (you can also use Google News) to search for industry keywords to understand how decision-makers currently view the marketplace that you’re in. Essentially, you want to search for terms or phrases that a consumer or employer would use. For example, if you are an EVP of Marketing, then you might search for “marketing strategies” instead of “EVP of Marketing” or “How to become and EVP of Marketing.”
In your search results, you’re simply looking for articles that pertain your expertise. Simply click on a few of these links to identify which articles meet those criteria. The picture below highlights a few examples of the ones I would have chosen.
2) Find Relevant Influencers in Your Industry, Quickly
You need to find the right people online to network with. Doing this from scratch on LinkedIn is exhausting. The UI (user interface) is not the best and with the recent acquisition by Microsoft, I don’t expect that anything will change too soon. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could save several hours per day by identifying the influencers that are already talking about the topic that you’re an expert on? This is how you can do that.
a) Let’s go back to BuzzSumo and look at one of the articles that you found interesting. To the right side of the article you will see a button called “View Sharers” where it will list the most influential people to share that article. It’s safe to assume that these top influencers are interested in the topic of “marketing strategies.”
b) Now you can do 1 or 2 things with this information. You can click on each person’s name to bring up their Twitter profile directly or you can copy/paste their name into Google to find their LinkedIn profile.
c) Take some time to get to know them in terms of which networks that they’re most active on. You don’t want to waste time writing them on Twitter only to find out later that they don’t actually respond to anyone Twitter. You also don’t want to spend time sending them an InMail on LinkedIn only to find out that they specifically ask people, “not to contact them on LinkedIn.” Many people will list their email address on their LinkedIn profile because they hate using LinkedIn. Do your homework!
3) Network by Saying Something Unique
Now that you know the influencers that you need to reach out to, it’s time reach out to them with a unique message that isn’t annoying to set yourself apart from the crowd. When you reach out to influencers, it’s safe to assume that they’ve heard every boilerplate pitch under the sun. How can you make yourself stand out to influencers, so you don’t seem annoying? The most important thing is to treat this opportunity as chance for you yourself to learn something new and provide value to the influencer by teaching them something that they didn’t already know. There are many ways to do this. Here’s one way that has higher than a 50% response rate for my clients.
a) Steal from Quora – go to the popular Q&A site Quora and type in the search term that you used for BuzzSumo in Step 1. In this case, the term that we used “marketing strategies.”
b) Choose a Topic – or a question that you can present an opposing or unique viewpoint on. The goal here is not to find a topic that you care about necessarily. The goal is to find a topic that the influencer cares about and also allows you to show off your expertise by teaching the influencer something new.
c) Construct a Powerful Opening Line – You don’t have to write an article. Just spend some time constructing a thesis statement that will get the influencer’s attention.
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. -David Ogilvy
Your opening line could look something like this…”I saw that you shared an article about Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy. Let me show you what Coca-Cola could’ve done differently…”
Do not reach out to influencers cold with a novella on what your viewpoint is. The point is to offer a taste and provide the meal later. You’re trying to “date” the influencer not “marry” them.
The great thing about the internet is that it affords us endless opportunities to reach people around the world to build our personal brands. The problem is that there is a lot of noise on the internet for the influencers to wade through in order to find the thought leaders in each industry. In order to get on the radar of those influencers, you have to find a way to market yourself. But, before you can market yourself, you have to find creative ways to rise above the noise and get into the eyesight of the influencer. Using some basic growth hacking techniques will help you get noticed by influencers, build credibility with them and market yourself to the relevant audiences required to grow your personal brand.
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