On ABC’s Mistresses, Harry, a chef at a top L.A. restaurant finds himself in hot water when he gets too friendly with the bartender, who turns out to be the boss’s mistress. Harry is going to be tough-pressed to find work, since his boss is friends with most of the other restaurant owners in town. A coworker suggests to him that if he were a celebrity chef, “like Rachael Ray”, he would make himself irreplaceable and would never have to worry about restaurant owners again.
When his coworker sets him up with a meeting with an agent, she asks him what his “thing” is: Do you write reviews? Do you have a cookbook? She tells him to get back to her when he figures out what his “thing” is. The agent says that when she looks up his restaurant online, its celebrity owner shows up, instead of him. He not only has no brand—someone else with a strong brand is overshadowing him and making him invisible and, as a result, powerless in his career.
After doing some research, he is astonished to discover just how much of a brand other chefs have made themselves—Mario Batali, he finds, even has his own shoe line. He decides to host a cooking class that he promotes on social media. He impresses the agent, who decides that she will help turn him into a star, and, in the meantime, he has fun and enjoys his job again.
If you are looking for a “thing” to brand yourself with, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. Here are a few ideas for beginning steps:
- Write a book. While it is never an easy undertaking to write a book, if you do, the world will open up for your brand. When you pitch media, they are more likely to take you seriously and book you. When you are competing with another company for a contract, you look like the expert. When you are looking for speaking gigs, it offers you credibility that helps you stand out above other speakers.
- Write a column or guest pieces for a publication, or start a blog. Writing for publications or starting blogs not only helps build your brand and establish you as an expert, it also opens up opportunities for you. For example, one client of mine was contacted by a “Big Five” publisher, because they had read his work and liked his writing style.
- Build a social media following. A social media following can be leveraged when you write a book or host an event, it can help you gain the attention of media outlets, and, if you get big enough, a social media following, alone, can make you a star.
- Host live events. Host live events to educate others about what you do, whether you are a chef hosting a cooking class, a florist hosting classes on floral arrangements, or a consultant offering an hour-long educational talk. Instead of waiting for other organizations to invite you to speak or trying to speak at their events, start your own. Similarly, if you are looking to network with certain types of people, and your local networking mixers just aren’t niche enough to fill your needs—for example, a publishing company might struggle to network at groups that have everyone from carpet cleaners to life insurance agents, but few, if any, authors—you can start your own Meetup.
Building a brand takes concerted effort over a long period of time, but results can be garnered quickly with a few simple steps. The key is to define your brand and get started. As Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: What ABC’s ‘Mistresses’ Taught Us About Branding Yourself by Finding Your ‘Thing’
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