My company, like many in the gaming industry, needs to market itself. As we are a marketing consulting company, hopefully we’d know how to do that pretty well. And like many casinos, direct marketing is an important core tactic for us.
As part of our direct marketing activities, we have the need to update our casino databases periodically, every three or four months or so. It is a tedious process, but it allows us to have the most current gaming executive database of which I am aware.
I am somewhat startled at how often senior managers change at casinos. I don’t know if this executive turnover percentage is more or less than in other industries, or even if it is a bad thing. But I believe it does point out the need for gaming executives to know how to market their personal selves. And please understand that none of what I am about to say should suggest that currently employed gaming executives should be continuously out trolling for better jobs.
I have interacted with literally thousands of gaming executives in my 35 year career and consider hundreds of them to be close colleagues, and scores of them to be close friends. And over the years, as these acquaintances, colleagues and friends have progressed through the gaming industry, I have watched most of them want to, need to, or be forced to find a new executive position. And as someone with a pulse on the industry and strong connections across many jurisdictions, I am often one of the first contacts of these “looking for a new position” execs.
Sometimes I’m flattered. Sometimes I’m irritated, especially when it’s the only time they reach out to me, when they’re looking for a job. But this experience as an unpaid “connector” does make me feel qualified to offer the following tips on “marketing yourself.”
• Build your skills and capabilities – the first and maybe most important aspect of marketing yourself is having something to market. An experienced casino CFO is certainly in constant demand and a marketable individual, but a casino CFO with a Masters degree.
• Constantly build and work your professional network– every gaming executive has colleagues in the industry, the more the better, and the more influential the better. But it is important to continuously be building that professional network. At gaming conferences and trade shows, “free time” should be focused on building new or deeper associate relationships, rather than on partying or constantly checking in at the office (trust me, they will survive without you). LinkedIn is a great tool, and although I am very new to it, I can already tell you it is a very powerful professional networking tool. Use it!
• Stay in touch with your industry friends – every gaming executive has a close group of friends, an inner circle they can reach out to any time for candid advice and information. And I know you are extremely busy, especially in this tough economy, having to do more with less. But make time to stay in touch with your “buds.” Then they will never get the feeling you only look to them when you are out of work.
• Build a sharp, attention-getting resume – as a “connector,” I get hundreds of resumes each year from individuals. I can’t begin to tell you how many contain typos, are outdated or read like something from a medical textbook. Play the percentages by compiling a resume that makes you stand out, that highlights your accomplishments and capabilities from the perspective of the reader, rather than the writer. Make it an interesting read that sells! And no better way to sell than by highlighting benefits, not career notches, for the reader.
• Look for high-profile professional opportunities – speaking at gaming conferences; writing for publications or newsletters; serving on local or regional tourism or planning councils; heading up important project teams or special committees – involvement in these professional activities (and more) can make you more visible, better networked, more knowledgeable and, ultimately, more valuable and easier to market.
• Be honest with yourself – we all have strengths and weaknesses as professionals in the gaming industry. But not all of us know what those strengths and weaknesses are or have a distorted view of them. So if you are trying to market yourself as a “customer and employee focused” GM who really is a micro-managing department head, then then you may be marketing yourself; but only once.
Marketing yourself is no different than marketing anything else. Have something to sell. Sell to the right people. And make sure it’s really you they want.