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How To Make Your Name Professionally

Think of yourself as a product on a grocery store shelf: Do you want to be a popular, sought-after brand like Kraft or do you want to be a generic, lifeless brand?

In many ways you’re viewed in your professional life like a brand in a grocery store. Without a shiny packaging, you’re just another cheap commodity that anyone can buy anywhere. But as a powerful and recognizable brand, you can charge more, appear more valuable, and ultimately get chosen over the generic guy next to you.

Much like popular brand names don’t appear overnight, making a professional name for yourself and raking in huge checks doesn’t happen incidentally. It takes a ton of work and requires you to leverage every possible outlet to get your professional name out there. Fortunately, making your name professional doesn’t require a huge marketing budget or a big name PR firm. You can do all the hard stuff yourself.

Follow our tips for how to make your name professionally and you'll be that much closer to finding success.

Be known for something

Defining your "brand" is the cornerstone of how to make your name professionally. You want to be known for something specific, such as the “web marketing guy” or the “outside sales closer.” You want to be the product that people want to buy -- design your message around that concept.

Developing your brand and professional name is like developing a political platform, which means that you’ll want to say the same thing over and over in slightly different ways. Seth Godin has written nearly a dozen books on marketing that all tell you what you already know and he packages them all around the Seth Godin brand, which is “the bright marketing guy.”

Leverage the web

Long before you’ll appear on Good Morning America and start riding the national speaking circuit, your first stop is to pimp the web. An easy way to get started is with a blog that centers on your area of expertise. Since you’re looking to make your name professionally, you’ll want to be professional and update your blog at least once a week, hopefully more.

Even if only a handful of your friends are reading the blog initially, the practice of updating the content around your topic every week will allow you to refine your theme and your message.

Don’t limit your exposure on the web to just spouting your own brilliance. In an effort to perpetuate and build their professional names, experts often leave comments on other blogs and participate in online discussions. Your participation will serve to educate you and promote your professional name as an expert in the field.

Write a book

Before you skim over this one, let’s talk about why you would even write a book. Nothing confers authority like being the author of a book that discusses your area of expertise. Remember that the title and authority you see given to authors has nothing to do with how many people actually read their book, just the fact that they wrote one.

You don’t even have to try to find a real publisher. These days you can easily publish your own paperback for the price of a couple of movie tickets on sites such as All you need is something to say. Plus, while you make your name professionally as an expert in, say, marketing, you'll also make a name for yourself as a writer -- if you seek out that particular path.

Your book doesn’t have to be Atlas Shrugged, it can be a 20-page Word document that has been stretched to make a 100-page paperback (sounds like what you did on your college term papers). Simply write the book and make it available for purchase, and once it’s complete, it’s the ultimate resume item.

Write for your local paper

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a seasoned journalist to pen a story for your local paper. Mind you, you’re probably not going to be published in the Wall Street Journal, but for your local paper to put you in print you’ll only need to have something intelligent to say and some basic writing skills.

News editors are always looking for smart, fresh perspectives to publish. The best way to approach an editor is with a few article ideas around a central theme.

A published story conveys credibility and gives you a built-in audience. It also gives you a platform to parlay into other writing opportunities for bigger papers and magazines. Getting this kind of exposure not only showcases your talents, but it helps you to make your name professionally.

Get speaking gigs

The beauty of speaking opportunities is that the producer of the event is effectively promoting you and your professional name on their dime. When the event does take place, all the attention is on you and your message. Another advantage is gained by the fact that people naturally assume that if you’re standing in front of the room with something to say, you must know what you’re talking about and, therefore, you must be the expert.

The path of a professional speaker is the same as a garage band: You start off doing local gigs for nothing so you can build a name, and you gradually work up to bigger gigs that pay.


Going from marketing intern to marketing guru isn’t just about what you know -- it’s about how you prove that you know it. Simultaneously becoming a blogger, author, columnist, and professional speaker on any topic quickly graduates you to the rank of “resident expert” without requiring you to become a national celebrity.

When building your brand, it’s not just about what you have to say, it’s about how you get people to listen. Remember: The packaging sells the product before the product ever gets tested.

By Wil Schroter

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