In this five-part series, we look at the actions needed to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace.
Action #3—Be a Valued Resource
I will never forget approaching an extraordinary artist and asking him to explain a bit of his technique. There was no one waiting and I had already purchased his art. I knew he wasn’t sensing that I was trying to steal his business, nor did I get the impression that he was especially shy or introverted. He just worked organically and, in a way, almost magically. For him to put into words HOW he did what he did was well outside of his skill set. He was not a teacher, a resource, or likely to ever become a mentor in his craft, even though he was immensely talented.
Similarly, you will find many such “artists” in the business world. Others, who could effectively teach, are just too busy to pause from working on their projects to stop and share what they have learned with others in any deliberate way. Yet, the need for such knowledge transfer is invaluable, never-ending. This is where you come in!
Change in the workplace is moving at the speed of light. New systems, products and techniques are being developed daily that can greatly enhance our impact and productivity and need to be shared. If you are the one doing so, you can serve your profession profoundly, establish yourself as a thought leader, and make life-long friends, all at the same time.
Perhaps the biggest pushback to sharing a just-discovered resource or useful technique is that feeling we are not yet “good enough” to present our work or finding to others. We may not believe we have achieved “pro status” in our market or organization. The irony is, this is precisely how one develops such credentials!
Consider the great coaches of professional sports. Many of the very best coaches were not the best players. What they have in common is not their former prowess on the ball field, but their ability to inspire, teach and coach.
While, of course, not everyone has the gifting to become an extraordinary teacher or coach, all of us can use the power of becoming a valued resource to position ourselves prominently on the “radar” of our industry or organization, often without ever standing in front of anyone. Social media and email are the great, new, level playing fields where even introverts can thrive with consistent, strategic effort. Here’s how…
How to become a powerful resource in six months:
- Document Everything You Learn. Did you stumble upon a time-saving technique, app, or resource today? Have you just completed a big project at work? Save your article links, ah-ha’s, or project “lessons learned” in an app like Evernote so you don’t forget it. Then, commit to sharing your tip or list with at least one other person within the week. Send them a LinkedIn message or email with your “FYI.” If it has been a while or you are close, you might even suggest to meeting up for coffee to share your finding. Soon you will be in the habit of routinely sharing what you are learning in real time. Do so consistently and in six months, people will begin to follow you online and reach out to you in other ways to see what you have to share next.
- Make Industry Research a Part of Your Day. Get into the daily routine of quickly scanning relevant industry and non-industry news for articles of interest and share them with those you know would appreciate them.
- Reconnect with a Resource. Pass on must-read relevant book recommendations, how to articles, podcast links, and useful new apps, to those in your network you believe would benefit, along with a simple greeting.
- Survey, then Supply, Your Key Contacts. Ask your most treasured business contacts what they are most interested in learning this year or about their most pressing challenge, then search for articles, books, and other resources that you can send them. Personally, this approach has led to many lucrative speaking invitations sometimes “months down the road” when the opportunity arose in my connection’s organization or association.
- Make the Most of that First Meeting. Whenever meeting new business contacts, go beyond exchanging business cards or tossing out verbal social media invitations, and say, “Yes, let’s connect on LinkedIn. It sounds like you are interested in learning more about X. Would you like me to send you what I come across on that topic from time to time?” This simple question and action will strengthen your relationship rapidly and enable you to become a valuable, top-of-mind, resource when a need or lead arises.
- Post Your Own Articles. At least once a week, post an article summarizing your most useful “take aways” on a topic you believe will be relevant to your peers. Not sure what your “circle” is interested in reading about? Send your contacts a free survey first using Survey Monkey.
- Host Your Own Meetings (starting informally first.) This last tip involves giving away what you have learned for free in a more structured, communal way. Don’t wait until you can monetize what you have researched, be it in marketing, exercise, or finance, etc. Jump in and share what you know, face-to-face or in an online setting, for free, with work colleagues, peers and potential clients.
Here are three ways to do so:
- Unless you are already a paid coach, when someone asks you to tell them in detail about your growing area of expertise, respond, “I’d be happy to share everything I am learning, just buy me a lunch and you have got me for an hour!” (Tip: Make sure YOU choose the lunch spot and don’t be afraid to make it nice, you’ll be working the entire time.)
- Second, host a small gathering to share what you are learning. Notice, the use of the word, “learning.” Don’t wait until you are a complete “pro” in your area of study. Remember: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!” As long as you know more than your peers, you will still be offering a great service to those who choose to come, even if you are far from an expert in your topic. And, as the old saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers!” Just present yourself as a fellow-learner happy to share what you have learned so far. If your workplace is agreeable, host a session in your conference room, i.e., at lunch time. Alternately, choose a quiet, local coffee shop, a no-host dinner out, or the home your “student.” Make it happen. This is the technique I used to grow my career transition programs. I hosted Monday morning coffee shop gatherings for those between jobs to meet up, be encouraged, and share job hunting leads. I kicked in for the coffee and, over time, ended up with a number of career clients and a team eager to refer me to others I would never have worked with otherwise. One of my corporate audience members, eager to put into practice these principles, now hosts a Mastermind Group at his work. These days, he is perceived as an up-and-coming leader and his managers have certainly taken notice. They have told me personally that they are delighted he is bringing fresh ideas and excellence, not only to his group, but to the entire organization.
- When you are ready, try out a service like GotoMeeting (which offers one month for free) to host an online conversation about your topic. You can also use a completely free service like Google Hangouts to do the same.
So now you know what to do. The question is, will you take action? Just remember the words of Coach John Wooden: “Don’t what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can!” Jump in and get started.
Dr. Bill Dyment is a Corporate Consultant, Speaker and Career Coach. Over the past twenty years, he has spoken to 2500 audiences and 500 organizations. He also helps mid-career professionals transition to more strategic positions and reboot their careers.