There’s a common belief keeping your head down, working hard and working well will achieve you business success and recognition. It’s a nice idea, but in this extremely competitive business environment we face today, it’s simply not true, writes Donna Rachelson.
Hard work and good work are the expected standards. You need to go above and beyond that if you want to stand out from the crowd.
I find that the idea that excelling technically will get you noticed tends to be adopted quite often by people who are technically skilled. And yet I regularly see these people disappointed that they’ve given a project or a job their all, but never received the acknowledgement they deserve. Instead, the respect and rewards may go to someone who’s not quite as technically adept, but who people notice more.
This is why I believe that you have to take a tandem approach: develop your technical skills, but also ensure you know how to market yourself. People who develop a personal branding and marketing approach understand how to convey the value of their technical skills to their colleagues, bosses and clients, which is why they outperform those who rely solely on their abilities.
Look at someone like DJ Fresh, whom I interviewed in my book, Branding & Marketing YOU. In his career, Fresh has consistently worked to develop his skills as a DJ, but he has also been very focused in making sure people know what he can do. If nobody is thinking of you, you’re invisible.
As an example, look at how Fresh built his visibility, and how that got him to where he is today. He was living in Francistown, Botswana, as a young man and playing small gigs in the town on the weekends. But when a new radio station called RB2 opened, Fresh approached them for a job. After doing a live audition, where he could showcase his skills, he got the job and used it to build his profile, winning the title of DJ of the Year for Southern Africa in a Lemon Twist competition in 1994.
Later he moved to South Africa to study and helped to found the Boston Media House Radio Station, becoming music manager. He used his own money to visit Sony BMG on a weekly basis, and all the other major labels, ensuring he made friends and contacts within the industry and kept regular contact with them. He also started his own website very early on his career – all part of building his profile.
If Fresh had continued to just play weekend gigs and not actively marketed himself and built his profile, he wouldn’t be one of South Africa’s best known and loved DJs today.
Visibility is just as important as ability. If nobody knows how great your work is, it’s not going to get you anywhere.