Turn the lens around. It’s a tough task for job-seekers. And independent professionals seeking clients. And sales people hoping to create new customer relationships. In short, just about anyone in any business runs into the challenge of talking about themselves … while putting their focus on somebody else. The idea is to speak about the people you before yoou launch into how perfect you are for the job. In other words, frame their description of their own value in the context of what a potential employer needs. The way to do that is to talk about the people you serve first. And then, when they’ve established that you “get” those people, describe the value you would bring to the organization.
The Downside of Difference and the Bigger Benefit: You know how sometimes you have a chance to walk your talk … and it feels like walking the plank? Maybe you were with me last week for a robust discussion of mass lay-offs, badly handled. It generated considerable response.
There was this from one reader: “I hope some HR folks are on your mailing list. You should pitch this to the HR publications. Excellent article!” And then there was this, from a reader who actually is in Human Resources: “You just lost a listener, who up to now valued and shared your insights, when you referred to the HR person as the Angel of Death. I am insulted by your generalization of HR as a profession.” Huh. Interesting.
It’s better to stand out than fit in. Remember those word puzzles we used to do when we were kids? They’d give you a list of items like “Apple … Orange … Chair … Banana.” And then ask, “Which one of these is not like the others?” It’s pretty obvious the chair is the one that doesn’t fit into the fruit bowl, isn’t it? Here’s the thing. I always identified with that chair. I didn’t fit into the fruit bowl either. The sad part is that I believed that was a bad thing. If only I could be cherries, instead of a chair … then I could belong with the apple, orange, and banana.
Not just as a child, but well into adulthood, I often felt like a misfit. And just as often, I felt sad about being not quite like the others. Maybe you can relate? There’s a lot to be said for fitting in, and those of us who don’t, exactly, can wind up wondering what’s wrong with us.
We’re looking back at 2022, pondering what worked and what didn’t work in our professional life. And maybe in our personal life too. Why not zero in on your differences in order to build on your successes and to avoid repeating those experiences that feel like failures. Try thinking back over the work you did and the life you lived this year and jotting down whatever comes up for you. It’s a worthy exercise, looking at the events and achievements that got us to where we are today. And, it’s possible to put this pondering to good use moving forward. You might want to join me and start with these steps ...
What problem do your clients or customers have?
If they’re like most of us, they have plenty of problems.
You likely solve one specific problem for them, though. What is that problem? The one that nags at them. The one they know they need to solve if they’re going to succeed. The one that practically begs for your expertise. Listening to business owners who are looking to launch or grow their companies lately, I’ve noticed how many of them struggle with “What problem do your customers have?” Their responses are surprisingly mushy, hesitant … they seem to be talking around the issue, feeling their way toward an acceptable answer. No wonder they’re running into roadblocks as they seek funding or other support … or clients. It’s hard to get a handle on what they do … and for whom. Much less on why anyone would want it.