More eyeballs, less eye roll 👀
As an entry level professional with a skillset in both technology & marketing, I understand how difficult it can be to get eyeballs on your work.
2 years ago, I began learning web development in an effort to further develop my marketing and (visual) branding skillset. For about 8+ years prior I had worked in various roles in content writing and social media…So when I learned about a software development program in my area, I knew it would give me the skills I needed to make my next vertical move upwards.
In the time I spent learning web development I went from not having a tech portfolio to having a small body of work that demonstrated the best of my abilities.
But one thing that has remained a constant, despite how much knowledge and skills I have accumulated in the process is that building an engaged audience while you are still an unknown and the most impressive program you have completed is a blackjack game (Edit: Thankfully, it’s now having been a Scrum Master and Team Developer on a 3-person project - An interactive grading platform app for a NY tech accelerator called The Knowledge House) is an Olympic-sized feat.
(Note: You can think of a Scrum Master as a Project Manager, of sorts.)
But not entirely impossible.
Below I have listed 10 ways that you can start developing your brand as an entry-level professional, regardless of the field you’re in.
Be advised, It is not a magic pill. You will not go viral anytime soon.
But over time, with repetition, the level of engagement in your work will most likely increase.
While I cannot guarantee that you will get a job, internship or freelance work from this, I can tell you that I have, in fact, received freelance work that i’ve taken and while I am still working on the job or internship part, I have significantly increased the number of callbacks I receive and have also interviewed with a few companies, as well - including MongoDB, Cockroach Labs, Per Scholas, etc. These callbacks are a direct result of the work i’ve done on my brand; as much as the freelance prospects that have been steadily building through the contact form on my official site.
I’ll follow up with a part 2, about the entire insanity of this job process as soon as i’ve gotten a role.
Got any more ideas? Feel free to share.
1. Find Your Niche
One thing you absolutely need to do before you start promoting yourself as an entry level professional is to identify your niche. What you are interested in as a person? Knowing this will help you understand what sort of roles you should go after, companies you should research and also what sort of content you should write about.
A while ago I narrowed down my own list to Music, Film, Writing, Screenwriting, Future Tech (AI, Robotics, AR/VR, etc), Science Fiction, and Art & Design. I now have 2 separate websites, one where I discuss topics in employment, technology or marketing (this one), and another where I write about the arts and entertainment.
Now that you know your niche, you have a better chance of finding work that you are passionate about; rather than trying to simply earn money wherever you can.
(Some people don’t believe that it’s important to love what you do. They also hold that your non-work life should reflect your passion(s), not your work.
But I believe that it’s very important to love what you do, as well, as that is where we spend a good chunk of our life. We should align ourselves with companies whose missions we support or at least whose products we love.)
2. Paid Promotions
The majority of advertisements on LinkedIn are of individuals or organizations seeking leads for clients or job candidates to fill open positions.. This means that if you’re a job seeker placing ads to find work and target them towards recruiters in your city or zip code, you are in the minority.
It’s a great way to stick out.
I recommend you check out articles on the differences between CPC & CPM advertising before you start a campaign.
There are quite a few other ways to use LinkedIn ads for job seeking, but i’ll let your creative mind to its own devices…
3. Experimenting on Social Media
One thing I urge you to do once you have any sort of content or write ups on your thought leadership is to read articles on content marketing and experiment with how you deliver your copy on social media. Are there any variables, such as hashtags or CTAs, that gives you better response than others? How many times did you test your hypothesis?
Over time, most people will realize that not every social media platform will generate the same results for their content. Once you determine which those are you can either not use those as much, if at all.
4. Start A Blog
One of the easiest ways to get your thought leadership out there is to start a blog or write for one. While I’ve used Wordpress in the past, i’ve recently switched to Squarespace.
Wherever you decide to tell your story, make sure you tell it with your own authentic voice.
You can also guest write for an established blog —
I am working on contributing to a new batch of blogs this year. I’ve written my for several print and digital publications in the past, such as Digital Branding Institute (As a Content Writing Intern) and Black Girl Nerds.
Provided the blogs you are writing for have a sizable following, this will be a great way to build your own readership.
What Should I Write About?
Your personal journey as an entry level professional. What’s helped you? Share your trials and tribulations, tips and tricks, etc. Based on your experience, how would you suggest that others get started learning web development? Talk about your successes and failures.
5. Attend Events
Sitting in front of your computer dressed in your signature Mr. Robot hoodie will not help you expand your network or land a job.
Research events that are happening in your area that align with your interests. Try to get out to at least 1-2 events a month.
Events include meetsups, demos, and conferences.
Here’s an example of how I landing a gig through an event
A few months ago I attended the Game Developers of Color Expo in Harlem, NY. While there I met a game developer who is heading a startup based out of Brooklyn. I pitched the work I had done and lo and behold - He was looking for someone to help with the marketing side of things. I got the job, and I didn’t even have to interview.
We started with a paid, 2-week consultation where I developed a series of marketing campaigns…Which gave him enough knowledge about my skillset to extend the offer to a long-term assignment.
Other event stories: When I first started learning web development I went to 2 Microsoft’s Playcrafting events, including a Breaking Into Game Design with Unity, and another on game writing (storytelling). While I don’t consider myself an expert level gamer (it’s been 10+ years since i’ve owned a console and a few years since i’ve actively played, though hopefully that will change by the end of this year), gaming is another space that I am interested in; especially as it crosses paths with VR. AR, and MR to give rise to new interactive experiences of gameplay.
After attending these events, I knew that learning how to make games, even as a secondary or tertiary part of my skillset, was something I wanted to do.
Meetup.com and Built in NYC are great resources for tech events.
6. Write A Press Release
One of the things that has helped me immensely as a freelance business owner is writing a press release every few months.
Within the first months that I started Nadia Carmon Inc. back in 2016, I was contacted by a venture capital-backed app based in Spain and Greece for a paid assignment. My press release had landed in the news and was making its rounds across the world wide web:
(Shown: An older one from Jan. 2nd, 2018. A more recent one was published in December, before that June-ish. Also my brand name used to be Wet Ink Press Co..)
Press releases are a great way to keep the world at large (i.e. not just your connections and supporters) aware of recent accomplishments and upcoming projects.
7. Interact On Linkedin
It goes without saying, networking is king for those trying to build their audience.
And on LinkedIn, it’s all about reciprocity and value.
Reciprocation — You interact with my content and i’ll interact with yours.
Comment on, like, and share other people’s content regularly.
Create projects that demonstrate an understanding of your field and then share your work.
Help your connections network with each other or find opportunities that they might not have otherwise found.
8. Make A Website
You can choose whether you want to building a website from scratch or use a template via Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, etc.
Look at design-centric sites such as Awwwards for inspiration.
Also, be sure to check out portfolios from other people in your field. What’s similar about them? Determine how you can mimic them while standing out from the crowd.
Communicate your story through design
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
Keep it simple. For now. You can always update it later.
9. Create Videos
Video production is such an underutilized commodity by job seekers, especially on LinkedIn.
Which is a shame, with platforms like Animoto that make them so easy to use. (Seriously, it’s like the Mario Paint of video making)
Developing your own channel on Youtube or even simply creating videos to upload on LinkedIn occasionally (<—-Where there’s less competition) can help you stand out in a big way to recruiters. Turn the thought leadership from your blogs into coherent points of discussion.
10. Then Repeat Repeat Repeat.
I can’t stress this enough. Marketing takes time.
The main takeaway here is that it takes a consistent marketing strategy to get your brand as an entry level professional off of the ground.
Whether you are a student or entry level candidate with a few years of experience that wants to find your 1st or next Full Time or Internship role, you will need to sit down and brainstorm your goals and get a little creative in order to stand out. One sure fire way to get ideas is to research influencers in your field. Every field has one. Who are the best know people in your area and how do they promote themselves?
A good brand is about more than having the skills or even a good portfolio. It’s about knowing how to showcase your expertise outside of your projects. Your projects will not sell themselves.