Maybe you work for your dream agency. Or maybe you started your own design firm. Either way, you worked hard to get wherever you’re at and are damn proud of it (as you should be)! But regardless of how great your company is, that shouldn’t be the only thing you’re bragging about.
I’m not saying you can’t have company pride; be proud of what you’re a member of. But I am saying you need to add a drop of vanity in your life and remember to promote your personal brand, also.
On a very practical level, promoting yourself will force you to keep things updated. It’s easy to let everything go once you get settled into a new position.
Think about your portfolio: Does it reflect what you’ve been doing for the last year, or is it still the same one you used to land your current job? Even if you’re not actively looking for something new, life doesn’t always wait for you to update these things on your own time.
Basically, you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a really cool networking opportunity. And you don’t want to find yourself caught off guard. It’s cool that you work for your agency and it’s great to hear about what they do, but what do YOU do? Where can I see examples of your work? How can I contact you personally?
When you stumble over the answers to these questions, it can come off as though you don’t care about your own work. You need to know how to sell yourself as a designer, not just as a member of a company.
If you’re actively promoting yourself, you won’t have to scramble to reevaluate your identity. And you won’t be stressed out about what new contacts are discovering about you online. Heck, you’ll be excited for people to find your sites because you know your best foot is always forward. You’ll be prepared to speak confidently about your work, and if people need to get in touch with you about your expertise, they’ll appreciate how up-to-date you are.
Promoting yourself as an individual expert in the design industry says that you care; both about yourself and the work you do personally.
So, how do you go about promoting yourself and not just your business?
Don’t get lost in your company’s brand. Establish your own. Yes, yes, I know part of who you are is who you work for. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat, sleep, and breathe your company’s identity. Your business has one brand, and you yourself have another. Discover (and don’t forget) who you are as a designer.
Stop talking about “we” and replace it with “I.” Tell the world what you as an individual have been working on. Sure, you can use examples from your company. But don’t get stuck speaking generically about it. Explain specifically what you accomplished and learned from the project, and why you’re a better designer because of it.
Remember those personal projects you used to care so much about. This would entail your website, portfolio, blog, or anything else that’s directly related to you as your own designer.
Just because you’re working at an agency now doesn’t mean you can’t also maintain individual projects. More than likely, people are still landing on these sites even if you don’t update them often, and you never know whose eyes are on the other side of the screen. Might as well keep it interesting for them.
Go ahead and be proud of your company, but be proud of yourself also. Make people see why you as a designer, not just you as part of a company, are the best in town. And be honest with yourself, it’s fun to brag sometimes. Live it up.