It’s been a tough month for Rock ‘N’ Roll.
First, two weeks ago, David Bowie died.
Then, earlier this week, Eagles guitarist, Glenn Frey died.
It’s been said that bad things come in threes – natural disasters, car accidents, Adam Sandler movies, etc.
And so when I heard two 40-year-old Credence Clearwater Revival songs in a row on two different radio stations while driving home yesterday, I feared the worst.
“Oh no,” I said to the steering wheel. “Did John Fogerty die?”
Don’t be alarmed. The good news for you, me and presumably, Mrs. Fogerty, is that by all accounts, CCR’s former front man is alive and well.
But it did get me thinking … thinking about how little information it takes for reasonable people to make assumptions and jump to conclusions.
I suppose that’s baked into human survival.
If you wait for a ferocious, flesh-eating woolly mammoth (or whatever) to pounce before you react, it’s probably too late. Better to run for your life at the first sign of vicious growling and frightening hair (insert your own presidential candidate joke here).
You know who else makes assumptions and jumps to conclusions? Your prospective clients.
They too, use little bits of information – often unrelated, often biased – to make split-second and largely unconscious decisions about who to pay attention to, who to refer and who to hire.
Is it fair? No.
Is it logical? No.
It is, in a word, marketing: the art of helping people to see you and your work in a particular way.
Because like it or not, they’re not going to try very hard or dig very deep to uncover whatever truth lies beneath those superficial clues.
And so with that in mind, I offer three simple suggestions to help ensure you’re not counted out from the start:
- Redo your web site. It doesn’t have to the fanciest or most beautiful ever. But if it looks like it was created by your high school-age nephew mid-way through the OJ trial, it’s time for a change.
While you’re at it, make sure it looks and works equally well on a phone.
- Update your LinkedIn account. Whether you hate and/or don’t use social media is beside the point. In 2016, my first move to check you out is going to be a visit to your LinkedIn page.
Here as well, you don’t need anything spectacular; you’re simply trying to avoid being dismissed out of hand as somebody who’s been asleep at the wheel for the past decade.
So make sure your photo is flattering; your explanation of who you are, what you do and how you got there is coherent; and your connections number in the triple digits. I also recommend posting regularly (at least weekly) so that if I check out your “recent activity,” I see some signs of life.
How about Twitter, Facebook and all the rest? I don’t think it’s necessary. While a lack of involvement may represent a missed opportunity, it doesn’t raise any red flags (yet).
- Invest in professional design. This one took me a long time to appreciate; I’m a word guy, not someone who pays a lot of attention to how things look (as my picture will attest).
But, thanks to the encouragement (harassment) of several friends in recent years (you know who you are), I’ve come to learn that here, too, if the package looks amateurish, many people won’t bother unwrapping it.
Web site, newsletter, ebooks, slide shows, logo, business card, etc. Find somebody whose work you like and make them a regular part of your marketing team.
Here’s the bottom line. I know it can be frustrating; it would be nice if people selected and hired others based on capability. Unfortunately, and with the possible exception of being a professional athlete, that type of meritocracy ended the day you left college.
And while dealing with the superficial alone is never going to get you hired, not dealing with it is sure to get you overlooked.
- Can you say “Bowie” three times fast?
- Me neither.
- What other “fixes” do you consider essential for a solo or small business owner?