Monday, October 17, 2016

Why Self Marketing is the New Skill

We are living in  a crowded and 'noisy' society, and for one to be heard we need to amplify our voice and effort in everything. Come to think of it everyone is competing for the limited opportunities and resources, whilst there are a good number of young people who still believe in manna falling from heaven in this 21st Century.

Last week, I had an opportunity to interact with a group of web designers and web developers from NairoBits school of digital design, the students will be graduating in December 2016 and part of the curriculum is to train them in soft skills and technical skills that will prepare them for the next job or internship. Our subject matter which I was very pleased to discuss with them was Self Marketing, the question I asked before starting my slides, is self marketing a bad idea? Take a brief moment to reflect,  actually some felt that self marketing is about feeling full of pride and shouldn't be practiced we should be modest and things will fall in place.  The norm among young people is that when you talk about yourself, what you have achieved and future plans, you end up with many labels which, if you pay attention to them you end up being sucked into the believe of thinking it is a bad idea, but either way we have been practicing self marketing everyday only that we aren't strategic with some intention in mind.

Of course the loudest noise should come from your work even though you still need to be proactive in broadcasting your work, sharing, collaborating and launching a product that will eventually create a great market segmentation for either being employed or self employed through client contracts as a freelancer.

Self marketing is a must learn skill and is if done strategically and well, it puts you on top of all the 'noise' experienced in the society and eventually many doors of opportunities emerges from your efforts. Self marketing relates to personal branding, even though for personal branding is achieved through the connection of how you see yourself in totality and how other people perceive you. While as for self Marketing we are talking about taking strategic positions in broadcasting your self especially your work, values, experience, future plan, skills etc to attract the next opportunity which is also clear to you without waiting for any random opportunities.

Let us look at  three things about the CREATIVES

1. Some of us say what we can/ can’t do.
2. A few of us do what we say.
3. A good number believe in ourselves, what we say and DO.

The question is where do you fall?

There are many things you can do for Self Marketing, below is a list that I compiled focusing  on utilizing the world of internet.

10 things to Master in SELF MARKETING strategy as a creative.

1. Create digital Footprint on social media

The world of social media is wide and there are many platforms to engage with from Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Blogging just to mention but a few. My take, you don't have to be in all, actually it is overwhelming if you sign up without a strategy for content creation and interaction. I recommend starting slow with at least two or a maximum of three platforms, but make sure you draw a strategy on how you will be active through content creation.

Image source and reference:

2. Master / map your Career. 

To market yourself effectively you need to know where you want to land in your career destination. Mapping is a process of acquiring the relevant education for the career choice, defining goals, having a vision, defining your values, nurturing your interest and amplifying your skills.

3. Work on your elevator pitch

 You never know when you will meet the potential client or employer. Having mentioned that we live in 'noisy' society everybody tends to be very busy and in a rush especially developed town. An elevator pitch is this one brief statement about you, what you do and why you do it said in not more than one minute. Practice and have one in store to use when appropriate and remember authenticity rule the game.

 4. Work on your profile or Biography

There are three types of bio's that I know of namely micro bio used in your social media platforms like Twitter account, Short bio and a long bio. I recommend you have all the three and use them appropriately this is part of self marketing where people get to know you even better. Here is a sample of my bio as written by Acumen East Africa regional fellowship selection conference.

5. Choose your Avatar with care
By definition an Avatar is a graphical representation of you in the form of an icon which can be in two or three dimensions. This can be in the form of a photo used to represent you on an online platform, choose your profile photos with care because they also carry a great weight in your personal marketing of who you are and an assumption of your character and personality. You don't want to miss that opportunity because of misinterpretation of what the client or company might be getting themselves into.

6. Create and update your portfolio 

Creating an online portfolio for example on  is one thing, but updating it periodically will keep your followers engaged with your work. Part of self marketing is in having structured updates to have your content on top of the noise or else nobody will bother if you ever existed as a creative ( photographer, graphic designer, web developers, musicians etc.) Check out my Behance portfolio at

7. Work on your CV and cover letter

Traditional CV versus, info-graphic CV, which way to go? In some instance the info-graphic CV might be ideal, but before you decide make sure you do it right and also understand the type of job you are applying for and to whom are you going to share it with. Having a traditional CV won't hurt either and I recommend having it in place even if you are a seasoned graphic designer it comes also handy when you are applying for opportunities beyond the scope of your work like fellowships.

8. Build a community around your  work & remember to follow others. You will need the referrals!

Building a community is achieved through having platforms that will either educate, entertain or inform your followers in a structured manner, for example, having a Facebook group page that connects the creative with the latest opportunities around their field, etc. Operating in a solo mode doesn't attract any community you have to follow other influencers in your field, join a community of like minded people, comment on post and don't shy from sharing what you think will be beneficial to your  wider community.

9. Go Out and Meet People

As a creative sitting the entire day behind your computer doesn't guarantee your progress. There are a lot of events that you can meet other creative, just remember inspiration is also found beyond the screen of your laptop or mobile phone. In this creative space or hubs you might find your next collaborator, client or employer and will go a long way in achieving mastery of your art.

10. Work on a self paced project & Never STOP learning! Launch  & Sell

One of the ways of building a portfolio in through working on self assignments that are geared toward launching and selling the product. Invest in your time wisely, you can work on a probono assignment with a view of learning and building your portfolio for the pricing. The important skill to learn in this 'noisy' society is learning to learn (LL) which is mastery of learning anything you want without falling into the trap of procrastination.

Lastly, self marketing is must learn skill for every young person who want to shape their future to the right career paths and the ideal opportunities for their personal growth.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Challenge, Next Opportunity

Someone would wonder where and when to get the next opportunity? Who do you need to talk to? What needs to be done? How do you apply? And so on. Today I want to share lessons learned and the plan that I have developed over many years in pursuit for the next opportunity. As much as we are seen to be interwoven in the digital realm our action is still much needed in terms of filtering all the information to find the ideal opportunity that matches our expectations, dream, passion and goals in life.  I'm a beneficiary of great programs that have transformed me in the right direction in terms of values, ethics, networking, career prospects just to mention but a few, for example the Do School in Germany, NairoBits Trust, Amani Institute in Kenya and Creative Entrepreneurship by the GoDown. The latest, have applied for the Acumen East African fellowship 2017 where I’m in the final round, wish me luck!

So what are the lessons learned or what is in common in my diary in getting the next opportunity? Below are great lessons that I have documented and practiced over the last 15 years;

Digital foot print / online presence

Nowadays interviews are done even before you apply, the evaluators go in depth to see if you exist in the online sphere once your application is received, this is a common practice and the evaluators are interested in your past, present and future and this can be done through online reviews before the in person interview. 

Some of my digital presences are as follows;

1. Facebook
2. Blog –
3. Youtube 
4. Flickr
5. Pinterest
6. Linkedin-
7. Websites-
8. Portfolio –

And many more, the best test is to Google yourself!

May be you are asking yourself, when do I get time to update these platforms? Well, it is a matter of doing it for the first time and making it a routine that eventually will develop to the mastery level of detecting when, what, why and how.  Most of all having a strategy and loving what I do!

Be Authentic / what’s your story?

Your greatest asset is your story; remember, nobody can tell it better than yourself. Tell us about yourself? You can’t escape this question in any interview, what I can say is never fake it, be you and that is the authentic part and if you have done it in the past it's never hard to explain it, for example ideas, project, achievements and future plans.

The interview 

There are many forms of interviews from in person, Skype and online questionnaires. My advice is to prepare for all possible situations and sometimes the evaluators might use all or two of the approaches.

Understand the program 

Before you apply for any program, you need to research about it and check if it fits with your desire, passion, mission etc. Remember to read the instructions before applying. Give yourself a good time for application and never do it on the day of the deadline, last minute rush isn't a guarantee of a successful application you never know the unexpected like power blackouts in some of our areas. During your online research never forget to join relevant social media networks and newsletters for information alerts on your next opportunity.

The Acumen East Africa fellowship experience is one of those moments that will go the memory lane as a process that applied the 360 degrees approach towards getting the best twenty change makers in East Africa. The application process received close to over five hundred applicants from Kenya, S. Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. I learnt this during my interaction with my fellows during the selection conference that happened on 1st October 2016 at KCB leadership centre in Karen. Making it to the last fifty isn't a minor achievement for me and I’m looking forward to the final results somewhere in mid November 2016.

My introduction biography during the Acumen selection conference

Anyway, reflecting on the journey, it is a worth to share experience which might help you prepare for your next opportunity; below is a summary of my experience;

1. Online application 
2. Confirmation email 
3. The telephone Interview 
4. The selection conference: Pitching, teamwork, networking, personal interviews and fun

Lastly, always be authentic and do what you love with passion and the rest of the things will fall in place. We live in an interconnected World where information is accessible through many devices and of great frequency or bandwidth, even though there are still many young people who have been left behind in joining the digital band wagon especially from the rural setting in Kenya because of social economical issues.

The Vision

I would like to be part of a team that would help in the establishment of digital literacy in the rural setting in Kenya with a vision of having all the young people accessing quality education and at zero cost, whilst this will enable them be makers of quality digital content in different formats. I encourage young people to embrace and be champion of technology despite their situation and they must acknowledge that the next big thing depends on their participation rather than waiting on the fence not knowing what to do.

My Key highlights;

There are 3 things about you; #TheDoersCommunity

1. What you DO
2. What you SAY you can DO
3. What is expected of you to DO & what you think CAN DO

Most of all DO IT and never stop learning, saying things can take you to some limited level, and DOING THINGS will take you to the world of untapped potentials with unlimited discoveries.

As much as we are seen to be interwoven in digital realm our action is still much needed in terms of filtering all the information to find the ideal opportunity that matches our expectation, dream, passion and goal in life.

Your greatest asset is your story; remember, nobody can tell it better than yourself.

Have a great happy October 2016