As a learning leader, I believe in practicing the skills and strategies that I encourage our team(s) to attempt. My latest venture involves mentoring aspiring principals and student teachers. Of course, one element of their journey is to market themselves in the digital age.
“In my day”, the biggest challenge in marketing was twofold:
- Getting over the uncomfortable nature of talking about myself
- Choosing what elements to put in my leather portfolio binder
Based on conversations with the mentees and experiences interviewing & hiring educators, I discovered that the digital age has changed the game. Unfortunately, the candidates are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the digital options for marketing. In learning this, I decided to embark upon an experiment.
- What is/are the best methods for marketing yourself for a job in the digital age?
- To effectively market yourself, you must create an effective plan to keep it simple & take risks at the same time.
- Investigate multiple modes of digital marketing
- Identify the most efficient methods for communicating your professional message
In the digital age, candidates must critically map out their marketing plan. The plan must include a variety to digital tools BUT not too many. This is a very fine line that is easily crossed.
In order to effectively begin the marketing plan, the candidate must first understand their role in the plan.
- Candidate = Product
- What they do/offer (teach, instructional leadership) = Service
The following steps are essential to developing an effective digital marketing scheme.
As educators, we tend to be humble people. This humility makes the first step, BRANDING YOURSELF, very uncomfortable. In my exploration, I learned that we just have to “get over it” and begin the branding process.
What does it mean to “brand” yourself?
A brand is a symbol that represents consistency in what is offered to the marketplace. ”Brand yourself” means that you should decide what you stand for, and what you don’t; communicate this often with total clarity and consistency; and have some simple, easy to remember way to represent your uniqueness so people can remember you and what you do.
How do you “brand” yourself?
- Determine your “why”
- Develop your mission based on your “why”
- Create your clear & consistent message
How do you advertise yourself?
- Identify your audience and advertising angle
- Resume (with a QR code linked to your website)
- Business Cards (with a QR code linked to your infographic resume)
- Twitter & Facebook
- Infographic Resumes
- Digital Business Cards
- Twitter & Facebook
- Video & Photo sites
- Know your technology expertise & preferences
- Determine how much money you want to spend (if any)
Explore the sites. I tried several different sites for each of these advertising models, this is what I learned:
- It is important to determine your advertising goal
- It is important to understand the different types of digital tools. For example, a website and infographic is static and good for information that does not change very often. A blog is very fluid location to share your “story”, it is essential to keep update the page (at least weekly).
- LinkedIn & Word Press are good for Google searches. They often make the first page of a Google search!!!
- If you decide to use Facebook or Twitter, develop a professional page for your brand. You do not want potential employers seeing you in the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader “costume” you wore for Halloween your freshmen year of college.
In creating various digital marketing tools, I discovered that it is easy to make the digital waters muddy with too many links, clicks, and sites. I found that creating on centralized hub for all digital tools is essential. Knowing that, it is important to keep your limited “clicks” to important and easy to access documents. Below, you will see links to the ERRORS experienced in my pursuit of digital portfolio-ness (NOTICE NOTHING CONNECTS):
- My Professional Website – 3 page limit did not allow me to put everything on the site with limited clicks. The page size would be too long and cumbersome
- My Infographic Resume – I tried many versions of the infographic resume. I still have not found the one I love. Perhaps, it is because I am trying to do this without spending any money or because I need to spend more time exploring. Regardless, I have not found the site that I want to keep. Here are links to other infographic resumes: KGM’s Vizualize.me; KGM’s Kinzaa.com
- My QR Code: Using the web or an App, you can create a QR code that links directly to the information of your choice. I chose to use my iPad App (QR Code Creator) to develop a QR Code that links to my website (note – this will be easy to change when I find my digital home).
QR Code to My Blog
If you go to all of these pages, you will notice that I am missing a MAIN page or hub that connects all of my information. In addition, if a person finds me on Vizualize.me, they will not have a way to connect with me via my website (they do not communicate with each other or share links). This is something to consider when you begin to brand, market, and/or advertise yourself.
As I explored digital marketing plans, I identified an overwhelming world of digital options. This caused me to go back and rethink the path that I was exploring.
Branding is essential to maintain a clear & concise method of marketing. When you create your brand, base it on your WHY (your passions, what makes you … you). This is your truth, what you stand for, it is your core (identity & values). Believe in your brand. If you do not, people will know.
Once the brand is identified, it is essential for the candidate to try a variety of digital advertising options for a few months before sharing them with the professional world. This will afford the candidate time to identify the most effective & efficient methods of marketing themselves. Based on my learning, I might suggest starting with LinkedIn, Word Press, and/or Weebly. These sites are free and easy to use. In addition, they often land on the first page of a Google search and have the ability to communicate with your Twitter & Facebook pages (increasing your marketability). That said, Google yourself. Identify what the potential employers see when they search your name.
Finally, make sure that your sites communicate with each other within one click. This is essential because it gives a potential employer access to your professional prowess with ease. Remember to put a QR code on your resume and business card!
After my experiment, I attempted to create a page that accomplishes my recommendations. Here is a link to the revised site: KGM’s Updated Website/Portfolio
One concern that I do have with the digital tools is that I was not able to identify the best method for protecting the candidate’s privacy (considering digital resumes & business cards).