Career Strategy Tips #9 - Your Competitive Advantage
You are your Competitive Advantage. Understand and appreciate who you are and what you have to offer.
Your competitive advantage means going beyond the mind set of the 'necessity to compete' to the mind set of 'already having won'. In a word, it is thinking strategically and being Pro-Active. It is the result of your taking charge of yourself and others.
I. First, to position yourself to win you must be able to answer these 3 simple yet key questions.
1. Who Am I?
A career synopsis. What are your building blocks?, which leads directly into...
2. What Makes Me Special?
Or, what is my passion? What have I accomplished that makes me proud?
Do I excel at something?
3. Where Do I Want to Be In 5 Years?
And, who do I want to be that I am not now?
Clarity about your answers to these questions -- the foundation -- will enable you to build a distinctive structure that defines you. Try to be the best in whatever the field or profession. Study what makes that other person excel in your particular field.
So, once you know what you stand for, you should be able to communicate that message. You should have a Personal Brand. (For more details on Brand, see my article: "The Power of Your Brand".)
II. The next step is to create a Career Strategy, and the roll-out of the strategy, or, Action Plan. It should enable you to exit your Comfort Zone. To develop your Action Plan you must be able to answer such questions as:
What do I want my next steps to be?
What goals have I set, with time frames? What outcomes?
And obstacles? And, how am I going to get there? -- from A to B
III. The following represents some key areas that require being pro-active, in order to have the edge. For all of these categories, Research is critical. Be prepared! So you should...
Know about the company, its financials, its products, its future.
Learn about the key executives, their backgrounds and interests.
And, if you are meeting with an individual, whether or not he/she is connected to a company, know about him/her; their bio, their activities, their interests.
The areas include:
Networking (both within your organization and on the outside) -- Interviewing -- Presentations -- Career Moves -- Career Strategy Roll-out -- Team Member -- Project Role -- Relationship and Relationship Building -- Leadership -- Management.
So, What does being pro-active mean?
It is the people equation. It is taking charge. It is to manage and lead, rather than be managed and led.
You must know who is your audience, and what are their interests and needs? That is, it is creating a Mini-Strategic Plan for each situation or meeting, which answers: What are your expectations?, and, the other person's or peoples' expectations?
What is the solution? What is your contribution?
And. what is the desired outcome?
Always ask questions. It not only shows interest, but moves the conversation in the direction you want it to go. Asking questions puts you in the position of taking charge and controlling the conversation. You create a direction in the discourse -- a direction where you want the discussion to go. An important component of many dialogues should be that you are reaching out to support, help, someone else.
With your Mini-Strategic Plan you are always bringing something to the meeting or conversation, adding value to it. Always try to be clear about your agenda, and their agenda, and how can your agenda be compatible with theirs, and visa versa.
A result from the process is to make the other individual, or group, your ally. To grow that relationship. Because you have leveraged your skills, experience, knowledge, relationships and performance successes; they should consider knowing you as an added value, a positive, an asset.
Your competitive advantage necessitates Clarity -- of purpose. Clarity about yourself, and other individuals and organizations. Clarity about what you have to offer, and clarity about outcomes. You are their guide to achieve a successful outcome; for a project, a meeting, your next career step.
And, it is always fun to remember the quote from Zhuge:
Those who are skilled in combat do not become angered. Those who are skilled at winning do not become afraid. Thus the wise win before they fight, while the ignorant fight to win.
Here's to winning wisely!