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Selling Yourself to Succeed


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“The bottom line in business is about putting points on the scoreboard, making a profit, obtaining a return on investment. Sometimes people shy away from talking about money, perhaps because decades ago families were brought up with the belief that it was impolite to discuss religion, politics, sex and money! Times have changed – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you don’t talk about it, no-one will know you want it.” Jenny Handley, co-author of Raise your Game.

Negotiation skills are acquired skills, necessary whether asking for an increase, securing a contract or securing finance to start a business. In the insurance industry the emphasis is on selling security to clients, giving them peace of mind – selling a service that keeps them coming back for more.

But what about selling yourself?

How does one create a package that will add value to an organisation, and then promote it? This is the challenge often faced by those who are either starting out in the job market, or career-minded people wanting to leap ahead. Ambitious individuals need to find their competitive edge and communicate it appropriately in an introductory call to secure the interview - backed by a top class curriculum vitae that serves as the ultimate marketing tool. Then they have to know how to manoeuvre themselves into the right job by making a good first impression, and looking the part.

So what is the difference between a good negotiator and poor one? Confidence in yourself, your product or service. What makes you feel confident? Knowledge that you offer value, and what you are offering is appropriate for, and needed by, the other party.

So how does one start? Look at ten simple steps that can help you move up.

  1. Consider yourself as a commercial product, one of good value. Remember that you are the product 24/7, at work and also in your free time, so ensure that your personal “brand” is always top class.
  2. To launch a product, a marketing company would immediately request a comprehensive brief that includes tangible deliverables, and a budget to work within. In exactly the same way, an individual should outline their game plan ie short, medium and long term goals.
  3. Then establish your “budget” or resources, and in personal marketing, this would be your strengths and challenges.
  4. What marketing tools will assist you? These could include a personal website, electronic signature, business cards, and well presented curriculum vitae.
  5. What references, contacts and people of significance in your industry can assist you?
  6. Define your target market. Who do you need to speak to, and where do you want to promote yourself? Do you want to work in a creative industry eg advertising, or a more corporate environment eg financial asset management.
  7. Your persona, image and package need to communicate your suitability for the environment – critically evaluate it. Every individual operating in a business is selling, a combination of selling your skills and potential, or these in addition to a service or product. If you look good, you feel good. Once you open your mouth you must then cement this good impression of being good at what you do.
  8. Communication prior to an interview, during and after are all vital, part of your personal marketing process. Think of it as pre- and post-publicity for the launch of a product. It’s how you make your call, at what time, and to whom. It is the ultimate verbal first impression. Consider who you are calling, and their needs – do you need to be short and punchy in your introduction, or will they give you enough time to give a broader overview of your value-added package. Are you speaking to a “suit” or a “skirt” – pitch your level of formality at the person you are addressing. It is therefore imperative that you have researched the company and person you are promoting your package to.
  9. Utilisation of opportunities, leveraging of contacts and alliances, and positioning of you as a product with appropriate visibility and media coverage, have to be considered. This is how you begin to value your reputation, and how leaders, icons, spokespeople and authorities are not born, but made.
  10. Image and dress are vital – ensure that you dress for the job you aspire to getting, not the one you are presently in. Communicate visually your professionalism. Create the right perceptions – if you look smart and successful, you will be considered to be just that. And companies want to employ winners. The days of dressing casually in the workplace are over, as if you are dressed in a sloppy fashion, your work and output will be considered sloppy and casual. There is a proven and direct correlation between professional dressing and productivity. It makes sense that if your office attire says “weekend”, so does your mind!
  11. “I apply the same principles for personal marketing and brand-building as I do when I am asked to launch a product or a company. The ultimate coverage and exposure always lies in good word-of-mouth coverage, and to secure this, you need to ensure authenticity and value”, says Handley. “An honest appraisal of yourself and your skills, and ultimate potential, needs to be re-evaluated on a quarterly basis, like a personal business plan, as you constantly grow and take advantage of opportunities”, says Handley, personal brand and marketing specialist.

Jenny Handley is co-author of a self-development book called Raise your Game, and Jane Shonfeld the author of Make the Most of Yourself.

Together they present countrywide workshops called “Make me Marketable” . Jane also presents workshops for corporates on Investment Dressing, and Jenny on a variety of topics ranging from Personal Brand and Marketing to Communication, Leadership and Change Management. For enquiries contact Lara, on 021 686 0287 or e-mail


Date Posted: 2007-03-13
Listed under these Business Listing Categories: Business services & consultants, Entertainment, Personal Services,

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