Marketing Me Inc.
Written by Mike Hurst FIRP MSyl, Director, HJA
We all have an understanding of what marketing is, don’t we? To me, it is an overarching term that can cover a variety of important, even essential, business functions – some of which are:
• Market research
• Public relations
• Events management
I don’t want to get into a long discussion about what is or isn’t marketing, but most of us will work in an organisation where there is a marketing department, even if it’s just one person with responsibility for some of these functions, but hopefully we can accept that marketing is important for an enterprise.
Your career is also important, isn’t it? So who is responsible for marketing you? Can you market yourself in the same way you would an enterprise? I’ve spent 23 years recruiting for clients in the security and fire industry with my company HJA and in that time I’ve dealt with a vast range of positions and people. Some people I knew who were junior sales people when I first started are now Managing Directors, whilst others have seen their careers plateau or even dip. Now some of the reasons for this are out of an individual’s control, but ultimately you are responsible for marketing Brand You! Tom Peters, the American writer on business and management, puts it like this: “You are your story, so work on it.” He also said, “we are CEOs of our own companies: ‘Me Inc.’. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
This may sound like a purely theoretical concept, the product of a brainstorming session after a long lunch, but it works. In March I, along with another senior recruiter, Graham Bassett of GBR UK, gave a presentation at the ASIS International European Conference in Frankfurt, which built on one we gave originally at the same event in The Hague in 2014. The session was fairly interactive and, from this and the feedback afterwards, it was clear that many people in the audience (made up largely of senior security managers) were not projecting themselves and their skills and abilities in a way that optimised their careers. The feedback was such that we will be organising some more detailed group and one to one sessions in the near future.
To maximise your brand, you really need to look at the following areas:
• What is Brand You? Brand You is what defines you as an individual and here we are talking in a professional context. It needn’t be unique, but it is personal to you.
• Analysing your brand. There are a number of ways of defining a brand; some of which are industry standards. While these are generally used for a commercial product, they can be adapted to fit very well with an individual’s brand. Part of the process can be as simple as talking to your friends and family and see how they see you (in a work context). This analysis should give some raw data that you can you use in the next stage.
• Defining Brand You. You now need to refine the information you have to create a narrative. This does not need to be over long, and although no one else will see it, it is a vital part of the final and possibly the most complicated phase.
• Marketing Brand You. Understanding, analysing and defining your brand is purely a process of ‘academic’ interest, unless you then put the work in to marketing yourself.
Before you start this, I would remind you of what Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “This above all: to thine own self be true”. There is little point marketing a brand that is not authentic. If you buy a car that looks like it’s a Ferrari but once you drive it, it accelerates like a milk float, you will soon trade it in. That is not to say that everyone is a Ferrari, but you need to present yourself as the best You possible. One final quote, if I may, attributed to Albert Einstein is “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Many of the ways of marketing yourself are, on the face of things, fairly obvious, the harder part is doing it is well.
You could probably write a book on just the social media aspect of this, and it would not surprise me if someone has. This has become a vital tool and you need to get it right.
Partly overtaken by social media, but needs to be spot on.
Again a slightly nebulous term and the subject of much writing and covering many aspects, but this is one way of both finding new opportunities whilst also making it easier for the opportunity to find you – particularly so as you become more senior and look for bigger roles. Many people hate even the word networking, but it is much more complex than you may imagine and it is likely that you will find at least some elements that fit with you, so look at the options.
I could go on and on about this, and frequently do, but hopefully this article will give you some ideas about how to promote yourself and your talents to the business / security community and perhaps your next employer. Good luck.
Mike Hurst is a director of security and fire recruitment specialists HJA www.hja.co.uk. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals, a main board Director of the Security Institute and Vice Chairman of ASIS International in the UK and a member of its European Advisory Council.