There’s a common belief that keeping your head down, working hard and working well will help you achieve business success and recognition. It’s a nice idea, but in this extremely competitive business environment we face today, it’s simply not true. 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.
This is why I believe you have to take a tandem approach: develop your technical skills, but also ensure you know how to market yourself. People who develop personal branding and a 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.
Fresh embarked on a personal visibility campaign from a young age, which is what allowed him to get to where he is today. As a young man living in Francistown, Botswana, he played 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 continued to build his visibility on the music scene. He helped found the Boston Media House radio station, becoming music manager. And he used his own money to visit Sony BMG and the other major labels on a weekly basis, 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.