As a self-employed person, it’s so important to get your name out there. But how do you do it? It can be difficult, and I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t always up for the task because I didn’t really know where to commit my time. Here are a few tips, tricks and lessons learned.
FIND YOUR SOCIAL NICHE
Most people will say in this digital world of commerce that social media is you best bet for networking. I agree, to a point. The whole objective of networking is to let your personal star shine. So if you're forcing yourself to do something that is unnatural to your personality, then don't do it, because it will show. I learned this through trial and error. I set up accounts and tried to blog like I was "supposed" to, but it didn't fit and they went unattended. And that can look more unprofessional than not having the outlet at all. When you do find your social calling, promote the hell out of it.
BE READY WITH THE 411
That brings me to my next point, business cards. ALWAYS HAVE THEM ON YOU! I learned this lesson the hard way on New Years Eve this year. A group of us went out to dinner, and even though we had a reservation, we ended up waiting for over an hour to be seated. While we waited, we struck up a conversation with a woman that was a member of a local collaborative that promoted women in the arts. Even better, they were shopping for a new website. Right? How perfect. Problem is, I didn't bring my purse or my wallet that had all my business cards in it. Ahhhh! I scribbled my info on a piece of paper, but you know that probably got tossed out on laundry day. Never again!
I regularly forgo my purse and just carry my phone with me. So I got this neat little sticky wallet on Amazon so I always have a couple calling cards on me. And now, I hand them out like candy on Halloween.
So, what makes a good business card? Well, I am in the business of business cards, so I'll tell you. Ever see that movie 'Legally Blond'? And she applies for a job, and her resume is pink, and scented?
That's what I'm talking about. You need something that stands out. It doesn't have to be scented, but a unique shape, colour or weight is great. My current cards are double sided, Kraft on one side, colour on another. They are thick, and have substance. My logo is stamped, which speaks to my personal aesthetic. Make sure your card matches your personality, so when that dream client pulls it out of their pocket after a night of mingling (and drinking), they remember who gave it to them.
Check out some of these creative business cards.
SHARE THE LOVE
Unfortunately we live in a quid-pro-quo society. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. But doesn’t that get annoying after a while? I mean, what ever happened to just giving out of the kindness of your heart? Fortunately the creative community still somewhat lives by this motto (as opposed to financing or something stringent like that.) So when your cup runneth over, share some love. It can be as simple as sharing your experience and knowledge with other creatives starting out in the biz, or even collaborating on work that might be more than your current workload can handle. Point is, when you give, you get. But don’t be of the mindset of tit-for-tat. Let the reciprocation come naturally.
REMEMBER YOUR P's & Q's
Didn’t your mother teach you any manners? This is a lesson that works in all aspects of life, whether personal or business. Say please and thank you every once in a while, it makes a world of difference. You would be amazed how far being polite will get you. Some fun (or sad) facts:
Only 15% of us will thank someone at work in a day.
35% of people feel they're never thanked by a manager at work.
Only 50% of us will thank someone we are related to in a day.
There is a lot of gratitude floating around the internet these days. And I’m on board 100%, but rarely do people thank others. People generally fell under-appreciated, and so it can be surprising how powerful gratitude can be to others. Seriously, if you want doors to open up for you, say thank you once in a while.
So here is your homework. Say thank you to someone today that you normally don't. Even if it's just thanking your significant other for putting the toilet seat down! Have some tips of your own? Share them!