The biggest problem about marketing yourself is that you can’t truly change the basic structure of who you are. It’s not as though you can redesign yourself to look like someone else, or operate in a completely different way. You are always going to be you. But that is precisely the reason you must find the best way to make yourself present, respected and valued – as yourself, not a cardboard cut-out. Be who you are. Be yourself. But nurture the attributes you need to make yourself stand out. And there are a number of ways to do this.

Three key points:

Know your subject. Do not waffle with an air of self-importance, because there is always someone who may know more than you. Ensure you are an expert in your field. Add as much knowledge as you can. There is always more to learn. Study as much as you can. Find a mentor. Continually aim higher, and as you become more knowledgeable, you will find that your confidence will increase.

Learn to overcome any sense of inferiority or shyness. This doesn’t mean you must aggressively argue with anyone who disagrees with you; it means you should be able to build presence quietly, and with confidence. Learn to listen, know when to make the right statement, don’t over-talk a point. If you are shy, it may be difficult at first, but if you have something to say that is relevant and pertinent to the discussion, you will be respected. And while you might remain shy, you will be fully accepted by others and your opinions valued.

Be intentional. Remember that every word and action is nuanced against how people see you. Everything is a message. You build your brand intentionally, you track reputation with purpose, you build image through focus and intentional portrayal of what you stand for and who you are. It’s true what they say: dress for success. Always look the part, but remember it’s your intellect that delivers the goods.

Market yourself successfully through a few easy steps:

Identify your niche.

What are you good at? What is your passion? What talents are you capable of – and perhaps not using? How can you bring these elements together not only in your work, but how you portray yourself as a keen employee ready to learn more? If you achieve recognition, value this. Build a knowledge base without being prompted by someone else. In this way you draw informed opinions and develop your reputation. Know what is relevant, nurture relationships with people of similar motivation and who can contribute to your process. Be social media savvy. Continually research your subject, write articles, and raise your profile among your clientele and with your company.

Determine your unique value proposition.

All of the above is vital, but then you need to add extra spice: differentiation. What makes you different to all the others out there also busting a gut to get to the top? Your strengths must be analysed against your goal; personality attributes must be examined. A sense of humour? Play it. It can work magic for you. What you bring to the table should be unique – not off-putting like a sense of grandeur or superiority. Spend some time thinking about what makes you different from your peers. Find five characteristics that perfectly describe you. Where would your particular contribution be missed if you left the company?

Identify your goals.

This is a key step in any marketing campaign. Your ability to plan is crucial to your success. Where would you like to be in one year? Five years? Ten years? Defining your goals is necessary to crafting a strategy to reach them. Make them accessible and reasonable in time-scale. Celebrate achievements, no matter how small. Remaining optimistic and future-focused is an incredibly powerful motivator when working through any obstacles. Be positive, retain your vision, drive ever-upward to your goals.

Share your wisdom.

Write prolifically about your field to get your name in front of people as an expert. Articles and blog posts must be informative, perhaps entertaining, but certainly valuable. And be happy to share your expertise for free. Content marketing is a valuable tool. Always be ready to help and enlighten others as a trusted advisor. In this way, you will build a fan base.

Build a community.

Join a network of like-minded people in your field and work on connecting through shared knowledge. Experts are of powerful value to one another, and their conversation will open new avenues and possibilities. Develop relationships with people who are as driven to achieve and expand their potential as yourself.

Build a social media following.

Make sure you use your accounts on social media to good advantage. Always think before your post: will this serve my audience? Will this enhance my presence? Will this grow my influence in a positive light? Be on as many platforms as you can. Know your different audiences on the different platforms, and construct your messages in accordance. Drive purposefully into your niche, illuminate your position, and make your name and subject matter synonymous. Your value as an employee or as a leader can only improve and expand, and that will become your key to any job you choose to apply for, or any door you wish to open.