careerspeak: how to sell YOU! by Kimberly Reuther

I know we keep discussing the bad economy but in reality, it is a shifted economy that we now live in.  As with the weather patterns, the rules of business have changed and will change again in the future.  The one thing that remains constant is the need to “sell” yourself to potential employers, clients, and business associates.

My philosophy on self-promotion and marketing is somewhat different than most.  I don’t believe in shameless self-promotion, I abhor it actually.  I believe in being informative and helping people.  Here are a few things I picked up in my career that I hope will resonate with you as you enter your next working relationship.

1.  know your audience – I believe this is an essential technique for success.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Ask questions, pay attention to subtle clues and adjust your message accordingly.

For business dealings, make sure you aren’t pitching an expensive remodel to someone who is looking for DIY advice.  For a job interview, it is important to learn more about the company than they know about you.  It is as much an interview of them as it is of you.  

2.  know your strengths –  There comes a time in your career where you are comfortable with what you don’t know and are confident with what you do know.  Don’t be afraid to call in someone else when you are in over your head.

Your clients and boss will respect you that much more when you complete the project on time with the help of someone else versus costly mistakes to your client or employer. 

3.  keep it real, keep it personal – People do business with people they like.  Simple.  Be friendly and personal in all of your professional dealings.  Don’t be afraid to let your sense of humor and little quirks slip into the conversation.  Work doesn’t need to be so formal & serious all of the time, we’re not brain surgeons!

You are a unique individual and promoting what makes you special will get you far in life.

4.  expand your network – A common phrase is “it’s all about who you know.”  Fortunately, it is true, especially, in a smaller city like St. Louis.  This city is full of amazing people and they often aren’t found in your generic networking seminars.  Don’t underestimate the importance of getting outside your “circle” to meet new people.

Listen to those around you; get involved in larger organizations and causes greater than your own.

5.  admit when you are wrong – I think this is essential to being successful in business as well as in life.  We don’t always make the right choices, even with the best intentions.  It’s okay.  Own your successes and failures and learn from them.  Doing so will make you a better business partner, team member or employee.

Every thing that has happened to you has gotten you to this moment and shaped you into who you are.

LeaderSpeak: Marketing & Branding

November was another great month for DesignSpeak, as we launched a new discussion series for design professionals, LeaderSpeak!  We plan to hold these every other month with rotating speakers and topics.

Our first topic on Marketing & Branding was a great success!  We were very fortunate to have such talented people for our first panelist lineup.  We really appreciated David, Nate, Araceli and Tom for being so open and offering insight into their marketing strategies.  Also, a huge thank you to Global Furniture for hosting the event with us!  Their showroom looked fabulous and turned out to be a great source for seating our crowd!

David, Nate, Araceli (& Bella Rue), and Tom offered fantastic insights to the group!

Meet our panelists:

L. David James, III – Read DesignSpeak’s bio for David
Hospitality & Senior Living Sales Team Leader at Colt Industries
visit Colt’s website

Araceli Kopiloff-Zimmer – Read DesignSpeak’s bio for Araceli
owner of Rue Lafayette
visit Rue Lafayette’s website

Tom Niemeier – Read DesignSpeak’s bio for Tom
owner of SPACE Architecture + Design
visit SPACE’s website

Nathan Sprehe – Read DesignSpeak’s bio for Nate
owner of Almanac A Design + Marketing Studio
visit Almanac’s website

Great idea to hold the event in a showroom full of comfortable chairs!

From my perspective, the key points to take from the event were these:

– Be authentic and real in your professional dealings.

– Ask and you never know what doors may open for you.

– It really is about who you know; building relationships is more important than ever.

– Find a niche that plays to your strengths and core values.

Our hosts Tom (far left) and Cate (far right) were wonderful!

We hope you enjoyed the event and we’re looking forward to many more intriquing discussions in 2012!

meet our panelist: tom niemeier

Tom Niemeier has worked on basically all the sides of the table in the design and construction process, from that of architect, to client, to contractor.  During that time, he has evolved a three pronged approach to marketing and branding.

First; it starts from within.  The design Team must understand, believe in, and practice the core philosophy of the company.  Hire correctly. Let your team contribute throughout and see the project all the way through. Do quality work and let it speak for itself.

Second; relationships.  Stay in touch with your clients after working so hard to create something special with them.  Do this casually, and keep it fun and down to earth.

Third; name recognition.  “Hit ’em from all sides.”  Do good work and promote it.  Win awards and announce it. Get to know the print media and get published. And social media is particularly special as “architects have the ability to do really interesting tweets”.  But no matter what, keep it casual, real, and approachable.  And hopefully when the time comes and somebody is looking for an architect, your name is the one that comes to mind first.

Click the link below to get a glimpse of the SPACE experience.

Note:  Tom was recently featured in St. Louis Magazine.  Click here for the article.

Leaderspeak is an event for industry professionals on 11.9.11 and will be held at Global Total Office.  Click here to view the invite.

meet our panelist: Araceli Kopiloff-Zimmer

In the few years since Rue Lafayette opened, Araceli has successfully marketed her cafe/boutique as a little slice of Paris in the Midwest.  Yummy treats, a relaxed atmosphere and vintage French touches keep you coming back for more of the “joie de vivre.”   To do this she combines modern day technology with old fashioned friendliness and a great personality.  Rue Lafayette has received accolades both locally and nationally in the media.

Rue Lafayette Cafe & Boutique

An offshoot of her overall concept, Bella Rue the canine “hostess”, has developed into a brand personality all her own.  Araceli has been smart in marketing this adorable little Boston Terrier with humorous accessories/toys, videos and even her own Facebook page. Click here to learn more about Bella Rue!

Araceli and Bella

Leaderspeak is an event for industry professionals on 11.9.11 and will be held at Global Total Office.  Click here to view the invite.


meet our panelist: Nathan Sprehe

Nearly seven years ago I met Nathan Sprehe, a free-lance graphic designer at the time, over breakfast and sketches to discuss our company’s brand and identity.  As a company that had yet to get its business license, Integration Controls was nothing but a concept at the time.  I left the meeting thinking, “There’s no way he got anything valuable from that conversation”…

Little did I know that all of our buzz words, concepts, hand gestures and napkin doodles inspired Nathan in a way that translated into graphics and company identity.  From our first round of logo designs, to a completed brochure – and beyond – Nathan provided a great foundation for our company’s image.

As a proprietor of Almanac, Nathan brings to the table a wealth of real-world experience blended with a passion for great design and architecture.  His easy demeanor and probing questions make him easy to chat with while he figures out how to best create a company’s image.  I’m proud to know him and eager to pick his brain for our first leaderspeak event.

Leaderspeak is an event for industry professionals on 11.9.11 and will be held at Global Total Office.  Click here to view the invite.

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