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Promote Yourself

Promote Yourself

I’m running into a recurring theme when meeting new, interesting creative folks: they don’t know the first thing about how to promote themselves and what they’re doing. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re attending conferences or gathering with lots of interesting people to discuss your big ideas and future plans, a little self-promotion is a good thing.

  • Business Cards– use a service like VistaPrint, or cooler still, make your own from something interesting. But make sure these things are true: your name is clearly printed on the card. Your email and also your telephone number are on the card. You may choose to add an IM address or Skype. Add a URL if it’s pertinent.

    Hand OUT the business cards. There aren’t points for coming home with extras. The goal is to get these cards into people’s hands, into their files, and then to have them be used as a way to contact you and discuss things.

  • Conversations– When you’re at these events, or at conventions, try and have something fairly simple ready to say if you find yourself in a conversation. It can even be pre-packaged, but have something to say about yourself, about your work, about why you’re at the event, and what you intend to do. People’s first question is often: So, what brings you here today? Have a really interesting answer. “I’m here to discover if my big plan will fly.” Boy, that’s a simple sentence, but it really has some wings, huh? People will talk about that with you.

    And here’s another: once you meet with someone sufficiently, politely excuse yourself, and meet someone else. Sometimes, at these events, we meet a few people right off the bat, and then we stick with them the entire event. That’s fine sometimes, but at other times, it’s better to get around and meet everyone you can, because you never know where that big connection might come from. Mix it up. Get around and meet people. Oh, and if you personally aren’t really great at being social, but you’re trying to launch a company, befriend or partner with someone who IS, because these ideas don’t walk over and sell themselves.

  • Authority– People react well to those who act with conviction and authority. If you sound very sure of yourself, and of what you’re doing, it will go over really well with people. If you sound like you’re testing the waters (even if that’s really what you’re doing), it will come off that way, and most people will become quickly disinterested.

    Try working on sounding like you truly believe in what you’re doing, no matter what that is. “I’ve been writing this comic book, The Three-Testical Toucan, for four months, and I think it’s really going to take off with the next issue.” If you sound like you believe it, they’ll go along for the ride.

  • Follow-Up– You can also think of this as a “call to action.” Even if you hand over a business card, talk fairly intelligently about your subject matter, and seem like you really are the expert in toucan comics, it matters that you are thinking about where you want to take things with anyone you talk with, and whether or not you have a call to action for them.

    It might be something as simple as: I’ve published this comic and I want to sell you two issues at $1 off the cover price. Want them? Or it might be that you want to develop your idea further, and are asking for help and guidance. Whatever the case, consider the “call to action” or follow-up activity that you want from the person you’re talking with.

  • Quid Pro Quo– I still think of Silence of the Lambs when I say that. It means something akin to “like for like” (lawyers, ring in!), and it basically means that in this new micro-economy of people with secret new businesses, there’s not a lot of money exchanging hands.

    Sometimes the best currency is barter. You know everything there is to know about inking toucan art, and the other person knows how to talk with publishers. You have to try and find ways that your skill can be useful to the other person. Try to consider that during your interactions as well. It’s not always obvious, and people tend to think less of their own skills than their true value. So, give that some thought.

There are adventures out there to be had right now. It is a great time to have something creative, inventive, and small that you want to bring to a larger world. Be ready to bring your own ideas forward, and be ready to bridge the gap between what you have and know about, and the people who are eager to learn about your great idea.

–Chris Brogan is available for all kinds of consultation on the topics of big ideas, presentation skills, how to podcast, and any kinds of hacks you want to discuss. He hangs one of his hats at [chrisbrogan.com].

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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