Last week I had the great opportunity to speak to a class of Texas A&M students about branding and social media. We talked about the components needed to build a brand and what tools and techniques are best for sharing that brand with potential customers, clients and fans.
But, what the students really wanted to know was…
1) How do we help clients who hired us for our expertise but won’t give up any creative control; and
2) How do WE become experts? How do we build our own expertise in an area – like in design, social media, writing content or branding?
I was super impressed by the students interest in these two things specifically because learning how to sell an idea to unlikely or hesitant buyers (uh, like convincing a bunch of baby boomers that your business should hop on the Twitter train) is the single most important skill to hone ever. Besides, ya know, feeding yourself or tying your own shoes. Because ultimately, no one gets anywhere without doing a little selling, wheeling and dealing along the way. We have to sell ourselves, and our potential, to employers. We have to sell our talent to our bosses, convincing them that we deserve that next project/promotion/raise. We have to sell our spouse on the idea of doing the dishes/putting the seat down/going to see the latest, weepy chick-flick. Learning how to quickly and effectively win people over and getting them to do what you want sounds like manipulation, but it’s not: it’s recognizing your audience, validating their needs, and convincing them to hop along for the ride that is your big (or small) idea – the one that will lead them (and you) to the solution of the highest good. It’s leading a horse to water, convincing him to drink, and having him like it so much he comes back for more.
Secondly, I was impressed the students were as interested in the process as they were the end product. “What is your average day like? How do you know what looks good/works and what doesn’t? How did you learn to do all this?”
Simple. I completely threw myself into learning the things I wanted to know about this industry. I read TONS of blogs. I practiced design, replicating things I knew were a hit with hot shit designers across the country. I took classes – eCourses, workshops, graduate courses. I went to printers, sending proofs and projects back over and over until I got it right. I practiced photography, I studied photography. I wrote every day. I ordered design, branding and business books from Amazon and even (yes, for real) checked out books from the library. I spent nine months in a corporate crash course in what not to do, what does not work, and what does not look good. Then I threw myself into learning not only what to do, what does work, and what does look good, but also learning how to execute that start to finish.
I told them you have to become a 24/7 student of what you are passionate about. You have to be passionate about learning, and learning everything – the good, bad, the ugly and what makes them so.
And as you begin to throw yourself into that work, your flame will grow brighter and brighter until you’re standing in front of a room full of people begging you to tell them how you did it.
love & light,
P.S. – This is my Pinterest board for all things that inspire me in my workspace.