Artisan Blog

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Tips for Better Interviews : Listening

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 421st issue of our weekly a.blog. 

Whether you’re a job seeker interviewing for a full-time position, a freelancer speaking with a potential client, or a hiring manager looking to add to your team, an interview is your opportunity to connect and learn the most you can about the person sitting across from you. While this may sound like you need to do a lot of persuasive talking, what it actually requires, is your focus on the more difficult side of the equation: listening.

Here are three quick guidelines to keep in mind.

1. Give the speaker your complete attention

Attune yourself to the speaker’s nonverbal cues. You can learn much more about the person than just what meets the ear.

Stay focused and avoid preparing your answer while they are talking. As you’ve already done your research and preparation beforehand, you are now free to give the speaker the attention and respect they deserve. Sometimes the best cure for nerves is to pay attention to another person’s concerns and questions.

Suddenly, it’s not all about you. And that’s a relief!

2. Use your body language

You can show that you are listening attentively by nodding, reacting with a facial expression, or saying "mm-hm" or other confirmation sounds. Just don’t overdo it. Forcing particular nonverbal cues can be more awkward than just letting your body behave naturally.

The most effective way to marshal your best body language is to cultivate a relaxed, positive mindset, letting your body and mind work in sync. If you approach your interviewers with an attitude of openness, helpfulness, and optimism, it will reflect in your calm and attentive demeanor If you come from a place of curiosity and generosity, you will be less likely to close up and get nervous.

To make things easier, try improving your body language a bit every day. Borrow a trick from life coach Jordan Harbinger, called the “doorway drill.” Every time you pass through a door, take a moment to look your best. Straighten your shoulders and back, take your hands out of your pockets, shake off any tension, and smile. Practice this exercise every day, and soon it will be your default.

3. Pause

Only when their question is finished is it the right time to gather your thoughts, and respond.

Take a moment to think about the question asked. Sit with it. Breathe. This is a conversation, and you are letting it unfold at a comfortable pace by listening carefully, understanding thoroughly, and putting appropriate thought into your answers.

And, when you're finished with your answer, take a pause. No need to jump in with more detail, if your answer was complete and well-prepared. The other person will give you a clue if indeed additional clarity is needed.

 

If you are a candidate looking for a new job, or your are a hiring manager looking to add to your team, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

6 Things to Stop Doing

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 420th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

In life, the time we spend with ourselves and others is all we have. How we make the best use of our time drives us as individuals. To make more efficient, productive, and mindful use of our time is among the most important goals we can pursue.

As with any self-improvement practice, it’s possible to go overboard with time management. Being able to use time more wisely doesn’t require dramatic personality, behavior or lifestyle changes as excessive ambition can backfire.

As you endeavor to make better use of your time, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid. This time we felt that a top  “don’t do list” would resonate more than a top “do list”:

1. Don't expect miracles

"We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point," writes the author Susan Cain. "Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead."

Some of us are natural daydreamers and do our best thinking in loose, casual environments. Others work comfortably at a slower, more deliberate pace. We can all make modest adjustments to better use our time, but if we expect to fundamentally transform our habits and patterns all at once, we are being unfair to ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Set reasonable goals you know you can hit. Then ratchet them up over time.

2. Don't over think it

The more time we spend poring over productivity literature, exchanging time-management tips online, and imaging ourselves as whizzing, hyper-disciplined superheroes, the less likely we are to get started. Take realistic steps, to get things done in the real world. When we're planning for greatness in the future, we let dust collect on the work that's due today.

When in doubt, forget about who you want to be. Do something concrete right now and get one mundane task out of the way.

Don't get stuck in the planning stage. Avoid analysis paralysis. Do something.

3. Don't wear yourself out

Coffee and sleep deprivation are best used in extreme moderation. And the most dangerous poison of them all may be “workahol!”

Simply put, to make the best use of your time and do your best work over the course of your career, take care of yourself. Court burnout at your peril.

Sometimes, this means stepping away from a side-project that sucks you dry. Sometimes, it means firing a client who asks too much for too little. Protecting our long-term health by all means possible is something we all need to be doing every day.

4. Don't lose focus

The best way to save time and energy, to get more out of your life and live it with greater self-respect, is simple: get used to saying “no”. Say "no" to things you don't want to do and opportunities that don't align with your core values or fit into your larger projects.

Determine your core mission. Boil it down to one or two sentences. Then take an inventory of your activities. Cross out the ones that aren't mission essential. Next comes the hard part: stop doing them. And, if you are offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities that don't resonate with you on a fundamental level, turn them down. Say "no thank you," say it often, say it proudly, and stand behind it.

You will save your bandwidth and will give other people the opportunity to do the things you don't have the time or inclination to do well.

5. Don't jump around between different systems and fads

Time management is big business, and new gurus are constantly making the scene, with new “systems” that they promise will blow everything else out of the water. Needless to say, skepticism is in order.

None of these programs have a monopoly on wisdom. Most of them boil down to the same few bits of useful, practical, time-tested advice. You can waste a lot of time following trendy advice that isn't right for you, attempting to change horses mid-stream, or signing onto a program that works for someone with a completely different life.

If you decide to embrace a time-management system, commit to it, at least long enough to test its efficacy.

6. Don't beat yourself up

Life is an experiment. Your career is a work in progress. Your mistakes are best understood as learning experiences.

If you fail to make the best use of your time or you can't stick to your plan, don't give up. Take an honest look at how you can improve. Consider how you can play to your strengths and work with your natural personality, rather than against it. And congratulate yourself for taking on the hard challenge of self-improvement and your willingness to adapt and grow.

The best way to manage time is to cultivate relationships that play to your strengths and make things easier.

At Artisan Creative, we understand how world-class clients and talent can make the best use of their time together. Contact us today, and we'll give you a boost on your way to the next level.


Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.



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