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Make a name for yourself.

When you think of vintage Motown, whose name comes to mind? How about "Famous Amos' cookies or Ebony magazine? Berry Gordy, Wally Amos and John Johnson are practically synonymous with the businesses or products they established. Most of us can't expect to achieve this level of fame, but we can try to become celebrities within our own circles.

Before you can gain recognition, you first have to be noticed. What's the point of attending functions and exchanging business cards if no one remembers you after the event is over? Only when your name starts to circulate within a group can you consider yourself a valued member.

Not sure how to increase your recognizability quotient? Regularly attending annual professional and civic events, addressing groups, conducting workshops and granting interviews are but a few possibilities. "Speak up and people know who you are," advises networking expert Dee Helfgott, president of her own marketing consulting firm in Los Angeles and author of Creating the Future Together.' A Guide to Effective Networking.

Speaking before groups or offering your services or advice is "an effective and inexpensive means of reaching a targeted, captive audience," says Lonna R. Hooks, senior counsel for Schering-Plough Corp. in Kenilworth, N.J. Hooks turned her affiliations with such groups as American Women's Economic Development Corp., the Garden State Bar Association and the Minorities in the Professions Section of the New Jersey Bar Association into forums and has become a sought-after lecturer on business development, networking and motivational issues. If you're interested in being invited to participate on panels or lead workshops, Hooks suggests that you contact the organization directly and express your interest. "Nonprofits and professional continuing education courses are always searching for qualified speakers willing to donate their time and expertise," she says.

As you strive to become more visible, you needn't be confined to structured meetings or professional organizations. Corporate titles or formal degrees aren't necessary, either. All that's needed to turn a chance meeting into a public relations opportunity is an interested party, some initiative and a service that matches a specific need.

Oscar Smith, owner of Oscar, Oscar the Limo Doctor, a limousine service in Louisburg, N.C., is a case in point. "I have a captive audience in my limousine," says Smith, whose business serves the "triangle" cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. "People often ask my opinion on local restaurants, sights and entertainment. Once they discover I'm resourceful and trustworthy, they not only give me repeat business, but they throw additional business my way."

Whatever position you hold, never assume that people know who you are, or even that you exist. It's up to get the word - and yourself - out there.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:tips on increasing recognizability
Author:Baskerville, Dawn M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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