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It’s Time To Market Yourself

It’s Time To Market Yourself

    If you want a promotion, you have to convince your supervisor that you are the best employee on the team. If you want venture capital for your business, you have to convince investors that you are going to make money. If you want to go out with the girl or guy of your dreams, you have to convince that lucky individual that you are worth the time.

    It’s up to you to convince them, and you’re going to have to go beyond just telling them how great you are. You’re going to have to market yourself.

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    Set Your Goals

    Like most marketing projects, marketing yourself will be a lot more if you know where you’re headed. Your goal doesn’t need to be absolutely concrete — you don’t have to set out to make sure that everyone knows that you’re the best choice in a particular niche. That’s called ‘personal branding,’ and while it can be a useful tool for marketing yourself, it’s not the end-all-be-all.

    I’m not dismissing definitive goals, but even something as general as making sure that working to get a promotion in the next couple of years can provide you with an idea of where to start. There is something to be said for goals as simple as making sure the cute cubicle-dweller in the next office over knows your name, of course.

    Without even a vague goal, though, it can be hard to figure out what you really ought to be doing next. If a promotion is your priority, maybe offering to take on a little extra work is worth the effort — knowing your goals can make your next step a lot clearer.

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    Talk To People

    Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. Even if you don’t particularly have a reason to seek a particular person out, it’s worth talking to that individual about your plans, your goals and how the two of you can help each other. I’m not suggesting that you should add ‘Pompous Bore’ to your name tag at social events, but it is okay to talk about yourself as long as you don’t go overboard. After all, you never know who your fellow conversationalist is going to talk to next: “Oh, yes, I was just talking to Brad. He really wants a chance to shine, Mr. CEO.”

    Think About Your Reputation

    If you have no reason to follow through on something besides the fact that you said you would do it, you should still do it. Having a reputation for integrity and the willingness to follow through on your commitments can be better than a million bucks in the bank when you’re doing business.

    When you look at the way a credit score is computed, this becomes completely clear: even if you owe a lot of money, you can have a great credit score. It’s a matter of whether you pay your bills when you say you will and you keep your financial promises.

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    Your reputation isn’t just a financial issue, though. It can affect your ability to look for love just as much. Once again, you never know who’s listening.

    Don’t Stop at Bare Basics

    You don’t have to go the extra mile every time. You don’t have to cook a surprise dinner for your significant other every night or perfectly package a client’s order every time. But it’s worth raising the stakes fairly regularly.

    Just as a fancy dinner every night would get boring, doing only what you absolutely have to day-in and day-out makes you appear lackluster at best to whoever is watching. You’re only appear exceptional if you do something out of the ordinary.

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    But don’t let your efforts slip below the bare minimum while you’re putting together that exceptional effort. In my experience, slipping up on one minor project can have a much bigger impact on the way people view you than even pulling off a truly amazing effort.

    And while bragging may not be particularly attractive, you can definitely get away with a lot more of it if your work is continuously good that if you’ve had a few setbacks, no matter how minor.

    Be A Real Person

    There’s plenty of advice here, and you’ll find plenty of other personal marketing advice if you go looking for it. And if you take all of it to heart, you’ll feel like some sort of robot who has to say two perfect things to your significant other before breakfast, hand out a stack of business cards on the way to work and stalk the CEO so that you can ‘run into him’ at the gym.

    That’s not how real people behave, and I think you already know that. The best thing that you can do with this advice is think about it for a while, rather than trying to implement major changes in your lifestyle. Sure, you might need to make an effort to be a little more outgoing or something along those lines, but if you boil most of this advice down to its essentials, marketing yourself is a pretty simple task.

    First, be a good person and a good employee (or whatever role you have). Your reputation will follow naturally. Second, be open. Talk to people about what’s going on in their lives and tell them about yours — just like you naturally do anyhow. It really can be that simple. You don’t have to have a perfectly optimized website or the best resume on Earth.

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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