“Fake it ‘till you make it” works until it doesn’t. Unfortunately, you might not have “made it” when that time comes.
If you’re a marketing professional ready to leave imposter syndrome behind — or at least harness it to more productive ends — you need a road map for professional success. Begin with these six to-dos that can give your career a boost without requiring you to start from scratch.
1. Create or Claim High-Visibility Online Directory Listings
Crunchbase. Angel.co. Yelp. Manta. Even LinkedIn.
There are dozens of others. If you’re wondering which ones are worth your time to claim or create, the short answer is it depends on your industry.
Still, some almost always pay off, regardless of the business you’re in. Crunchbase is a great example — it’s not industry-specific and allows a tremendous amount of detail in listings. Case in point: the Crunchbase profile for Michael Capiraso, a New York-based sports marketing executive, perfectly pitches his strengths. Model yours after his and you won’t go wrong.
2. Apply to Join Marketing Industry LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are online versions of old-school “IRL” professional networks. They take way less time to manage and involve way less small talk too.
The catch, as with IRL groups, is that you generally have to apply to join, or at least have verifiable industry experience. That’s fine if you already have a polished marketing resume or can show you’re serious about learning the trade.
3. Join (or Start) a Local Marketing Professionals’ Association
Alas, LinkedIn Groups aren’t everything. There’s no substitute (yet) for in-person networking. But you don’t want to network for the sake of networking — you want to play in high-value, high-relevance networks that can actually advance your career.
If you work in a smaller market, you may need to create a network of your own. Or, more likely, formalize it by founding a professionals’ association built around what you do. There are other marketing pros out there in your backyard, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
4. Freelance, Even If You’re Busy at Your Day Job
And if your current employer doesn’t allow you to do noncompetitive consulting on the side, find a new one.
Here’s the thing — you can create a portfolio that shows off your skills and capabilities just by doing what you do every day. But to create one that truly shows off your breadth and your values — values you might not be able to live freely within the confines of your employer’s client relationships — you need to have total control over at least part of your professional life.
5. Become a Voracious Reader (And Write About What You Read)
You’re probably a curious type; most marketing professionals are. You might not feel as if you have time to exercise that curiosity though. You’re busy, just like the rest of it.
Well, find the time. And don’t just learn new things — process them in public view. Whether you use LinkedIn’s creator function or publish a personal blog that’s vaguely related to your day job, there’s no better way to stand out than to put yourself out there.
6. Get Comfortable With the Socials
Contrary to popular belief, many marketing professionals are just as awkward on social media as your average member of the general population. Maybe you’re one of them.
Unfortunately, even if your role isn’t explicitly public-facing, you work in a public-facing industry. That means you have to be comfortable using social media, where your reach goes the farthest.
Stand Up to Stand Out
In this industry, you can’t wait for the right person to notice you, or for some “hitting the big time” moment that could never arrive. You have to stand up to stand out.
As you can see, that’s not as challenging as it might seem. Or as great an investment of your precious time and resources.
But you do have to take that first step.