How to become an Expert at Not Being an Expert?
May 6, 2009 9:10 PM Subscribe
How to self-market with Diversity (not necessarily ethnocentric) as my key point-of-difference, twisting a liability into an asset, within an industry that almost exclusively values Specialization?
posted by canijusa to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I love my freelance work in the Beauty/Fashion/Entertainment industry, which similar to many fields, is very compartmentalized; it's rare to find examples of frequent successful mobility (think Theatre vs. Film vs. Fashion vs. Music). Even though we commonly have experience in most aspects, when it comes down to what pays the bills, jobs and referrals follow a family-tree system and we end up semi-pigeon-holed, making it hard to move between specialties (due to trends, innovations and networking).
I tend to be bored with routines and never aggressively pursued a path, simply because I wasn't sure which one I liked more. Luckily, because of this, I have current and ongoing experience in multiple facets of my field, work regularly, teach advanced classes to peers and am fairly respected in my industry because of my range. Unluckily, I face periodic criticism that my body of work is segmented.
In addition to my skill diversity, and my upbringing (mixed-culture hippie home), I have a social-service background (anti-discrimination and civil rights), in which my heart is deeply rooted. Speak to me for more than 5 minutes and you'll see I'm incredibly passionate about the topic beyond the politically-correct rhetoric. As my two passions are seemingly in direct opposition though, it's honestly never occurred to me that the two aspects could even co-exist, let alone flirt and get married. I generally prepared myself for the day I'd have to secede from my current field to rejoin the other.
Some possible challenges:
-Most people value Expert over Generalized skills for obvious and practical reasons, and because my industry is incredibly trend and image-conscious with a short attention span (and I'll say it...snobby and superficial), my concept will not be accepted easily without a very "slick" hook and package. Unfortunately my field is rampant with novices who obtain jobs simply because they are eye-candy and have a pretty website.
-I'd really like to have a thoughtful, holistic marketing plan, and my inner snob also wants it to be fun, approachable and stylish with the seductive whiff of elitism that my crowd tends to be aroused by.
-Due to the potential sensitivity and yawn-factor of "Diversity Issues," how do I incorporate the idea in a fresh, modern, positive, relatable way that avoids any smug moralistic pitfalls or triteness?
-In light of current changes in government and the resurgence of the topic, how can I ensure credibility, relevance and longevity beyond what will likely lead to "buzzword buzzkill," like happened to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action? Or is it even possible? I don't want to be swallowed up when the topic gets beaten to death or trivialized as just another marketing fad (a la "green").
-I've written a book on the near horizon that combines my loves; it will likely be in the Health/Beauty/ChicLit categories, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy, peppered with anecdotes and (not so) hidden political messages.
-In researching and writing the book, I've been following trends and forecasting, all of which lead me to hope that clever marketing is possible...that people are open to the idea more than in the past.
-So far, I have found nothing in existence with the same hybrid, there's only one other book even slightly close to my perspective and everything else is very segregated and/or too political to appeal to a larger audience. Time is of the essence for me to be a leader in this niche.
Essentially, I need to become an Expert in Not Being an Expert. I think. That's what you are for.....thank you in advance for your thoughts.