With many Americans venturing into the YouEconomy—as freelancers, one-man shops, consultants, dog walkers, you name it—one major challenge they face is to make a name for themselves. If you’re one of these solopreneurs, you are marketing you, which is critical to building your brand.
Related: Welcome to the YouEconomy
Truth is, that’s what I’m doing right now. For 33 years I was with the same company and served as its co-CEO for the last 15 years of that tenure. I had a staff to whom I could say, “Here’s what we’re doing,” and this team would do it. Now that I’ve transitioned into my new role of writing, speaking and being the leadership editor of SUCCESS, I am the CEO of Addison Leadership Group. I am building a brand: Who am I? What are the values of my business? How do I want others to view my brand? How do I want to connect with the people in my new audience?
Here are my suggestions for tackling those issues and rising as a respected leader in your field.
1. In the YouEconomy, your brand needs to be authentic to who you are. You need to know what you’re skilled at handling and where you’re deficient. You have to intensely focus on your positive attributes so you’re driving your brand to something natural to you. Too many people want to be something they are not, which means certain failure. People are generally not proficient at work that does not come naturally to them, and you must be good at what you do.
2. Work very hard to ensure your message is consistently and clearly reinforcing the brand in all of your communications, from one-on-one meetings to advertising to social media. This is a must for promoting your brand strengths. It will help you become top of mind for your product or service and then establish yourself as the go-to person instead of your competitors.
3. If you want people to respect you as a leader, you have to be honest, but in an inoffensive way. “Telling it like it is” is often an excuse for acting like a jerk; real honesty can be tempered with tact and humility. After all, life is about contradictions—you have to be humble while boldly staking out new territory; you have to be cautiously optimistic and realistically unrealistic when reaching for big goals or handling big problems. Being honest while managing contradictions will inspire trust.
4. It almost goes without saying that knowing your craft is vital to success—you have to be good at what you do. If you’re a writer, be a dang good writer. If you’re a dog walker, be the best dog walker in town. If you’re in real estate, know more about it than anyone else. Work and study to improve.
5. Finally, you have to get the word out, and the best way is to win friends and influence people, to borrow a Dale Carnegie phrase. Talk to people, talk to people, talk to people. Don’t just sit at the coffee shop and stare at your smartphone. Meet people. Use the 10-foot rule—don’t keep tapping on a screen—and talk to whoever is within 10 feet of you.
After all, it’s a bold new world out there, and you never know who just might open the door to expansion of your business.
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.