by Dennie Heye, Europe Chapter, Petroleum & Energy Resources Division
Information professionals usually don’t think of marketing themselves as a big issue. We know we are the key to accessing information; we are service- and customer-oriented; we know our business – so, customers will just come to us, right?
To become future ready, we need to market ourselves – not just to be known, but also to let our customers know who we are and what we can do to help them. Here, I share my experiences with marketing myself successfully as an information professional, both inside and outside my organization.
Promoting my services portfolio
I work in a large, multinational company, so a lot of my clients are not in the same building – or even on the same continent. To be noticed, I have set up a short, informative web page about my services on our intranet.
I spend time every day browsing and reading internal discussion forums, and try to participate in discussions by providing references, pointing to online and offline sources, or suggesting that I set up a literature search for participants. At the bottom of each of my replies is a pointer to my services web site.
Participate in Client Meetings
Besides participating in virtual discussions and collaboration areas, I block time in my calendar every week to attend team meetings and stay up to date with my clients’ work. I try to be proactive in supplying information, or to suggest training for relevant online and offline sources.
When possible, I scan and browse relevant industry journals related to my clients’ business. This way I pick up trends, pointers to relevant publications, plus, I learn their jargon. By being able to speak my clients’ language, or at least show that I am interested in their world, I am taken seriously.
During all my communications, whether through a PowerPoint presentation, a web site or a face-to-face meeting with a new client, I always try to be clear on the services I provide. I emphasize my key advantages as a literature searcher: I have access to a variety of quality information; a wide network; professional knowledge of interviewing, searching and dissemination; and last, but not least, I can provide better information faster and cheaper. Honesty is also something I emphasize – I do not promise what I cannot deliver, even though there sometimes is pressure to do so. On an annual basis, via an anonymous feedback form, I ask my clients to provide comments on my services. This provides me with new ideas for improvement. To get more feedback on my professional performance, I ask trusted colleagues (from different departments) to tell me honestly what they think of my services or approach.
One book which I consider to be very clear and helpful on this topic is Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith (New York: Warner Books, 1997), which will help you think about marketing both your services and yourself.
Dennie Heye is a global knowledge manager at a global energy firm in the Netherlands, working on knowledge management and enterprise social media. That said, he is still able to dress himself and carry out simple tasks.
A longer version of this article was originally published in Info Career Trends.