It’s no secret, when it comes to business – the ability to sell yourself is very important. I resent this so much, my Mum always taught me that there’s a particular grace in being ultra modest. When someone tells me I’m a good photographer, my first instinct is to say “No I’m not, I’m just lucky, I have a good lens!” I’m embarrassed by self promotion – though I’m steadily getting better at it – because I’m just so amazing. See? Ha!
Jokes aside, there’s a whole load of Do’s and Do Not’s when it comes to selling yourself proffessionally. I was unfortunate to witness quite a few ‘not so smooth’ movers at NYFW, plying their wares at any chance with gusto. When you’re forceful – it has the opposite to desired effect. It becomes ugly. The answer lies more in the listening than in the talking. An old view of salespeople is that they are like crocodiles, big mouths – small ears. Today, people are more and more aware of what they want – before you start plying your skills, you need to fully understand how you can best benefit and interest your target. So ask questions!
Of course, this advice is specific to speaking in person so it all starts with finding out who to approach. Some of my work comes from people approaching me – and some comes from cold calls, from email pitches, scoring meetings through requests. One you’re in the room with that person – or you meet them at an event, tact is everything.
1. Ask the right questions, be an excellent listener.
I’ve seen bloggers walk into a room full of editors and designers and basically list out their recent achievements aimlessly to anyone who’ll listen. The key to building long lasting professional relationships is meaningful two-sided interactions accumulating in results that aren’t always driven monetary gain. You’re not going to gain an understanding of what your client needs without asking them exactly what their looking for.
2. Be well researched.
Imagine you had the chance to speak to Anna Wintour about your favourite designer – but couldn’t pronounce the name correctly! A simple mistake like that could bury you. If you ever get the chance to converse with a potential client, know their brand and know exactly how you can benefit their business.
3. Be confident, speak on the level.
Being overly flattering or going full on ‘fan-girl’ isn’t really going to endear you to any future client. Be confident in what you have to offer. It can be as simple and stating after a query, ‘I’ve got 10,000 engaged followers’ rather than ‘I’ve only got 10,000 followers.’ Most brands aren’t always after the biggest fish – anyone can provide value provided they have a good understanding of their worth.
4. Don’t push too far, keep it short and sweet. Never oversell!
Overselling is a major no no – firstly, it’s incredibly transparent, exaggerations are easy to read – secondly, if you manage follow through, you’re already onto a great trial managing expectations of your client. Keep emotion out of it and win them over with hard facts and reason, results you know you can deliver.
5. Exchange contacts – follow up promptly!
I’ve been guilty in the past of chatting to loads of contacts at fashion week, discussing ideas and then never following up – mostly out of lack of confidence or lack of time. The world belongs to those who seize opportunities as they arise and from my understanding, those who do follow up are rare – so you’re odds are up! Clients will always appreciate someone who means what they say when you exchange contact details and replying to emails promptly is a great sign of professionalism. Some clients might also prefer to communicate via phone so keep that in mind.
This is going to be the first part in a series discussing career strategy on this site! Would love to know any other details and topics you’d like us to cover – and additionally, we are currently looking for contributing writers as part of the new launch/re-vamp which is happening around the end of March. If you’re interested please email us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos and text by Zanita Whittington and Gustav Carlson
sweater, I Love Mr Mittens
bag and trousers, CH Carolina Herrera