Executives are always seeking ways in which to distinguish themselves from other executives. I suggest that executives identify and market their potential in their quest to uncover career opportunities. In a recent Q & A interview with a major publication, I answered some key questions that arose out of the interviewer reading my book, Market Your Potential, Not Your Past: How to Build a Career That Works For You, Regardless of What Happens To You.
Q1: When should an executive highlight past successes to indicate future potential?
“Potential,” as I define it, is experience that relates to what the marketplace wants today and demonstrates key opportunities that an organization can realize through hiring a particular executive. Successes from a previous position are most often irrelevant for today’s business challenges.
Focusing your presentation on these past successes causes the hiring managers to extrapolate what that means for them and their business today. Many cannot, or will not, do that – it is just too hard to read the tea leaves and figure that out.
Therefore, it only makes sense that an executive candidate outlines what he or she can bring today to the table and use past successes as a support for that value proposition. Past performance does not mean future success, and anyone who has hired someone knows that!
Q2: Creating name recognition is a great idea, but how does an executive not working for a powerhouse company actually do that?
Gaining name recognition is one of many outcomes for executives who make their career the single most important aspect of their executive life. With tenure averages of two to two and one-half years, what lasts longer – the job or the career?
In my book, I outline several things that executives must do to make their careers into their own business. As I stated before, name recognition is just one measureable outcome of a well-managed executive career.
Executives no longer need to be aligned with a top Fortune 100 company to have a stellar career. With access to social media, getting visible on the Internet is relatively easy. To move beyond obscurity to recognition can happen in a variety of avenues.
Again, the result is important but it is the strategy behind it that is key.
Q3: When should an executive use such techniques as cold calling, prospecting, cold networking and other forms of lead generation?
Lead generation today must go beyond cold calling strategies to find leads.
The strategies and techniques that worked more than 30 years ago must become more nuanced and sophisticated today. With everyone busy and working 12 hours or more a day, cold calling (in the classic sense), doesn’t work very well. It is a “front-door approach” that has several gatekeepers who are very well-skilled at keeping an executive candidate out.
In response to the old way of doing things, I’ve created is a nine step process through which you work within your current power brokers base to develop leads without making it uncomfortable for either party.
A recent client used my techniques and landed an opportunity that not only put him into a C-suite role (where he had never been before), but he received a compensation package that was a 30% increase. It is powerful technique to use because it is a force multiplier that really, really works!
There are other forms of lead generation, however, that I believe work as well.
One of them is to purposefully become visible in your local or national professional association to get in on the inside where hidden job leads manifest themselves. Another is to be a part of a large, target-rich event in your city via a community event (such as the March of Dimes) where you meet new power brokers.
There are many, many other ways to “give your way into job leads” rather than through the very stressful, and highly ineffective, cold calling techniques that you’ve heard of from the past.
Q4: My closest contacts know me well enough to be able to communicate my value statement to potential employers on my behalf. How can I help my wider network to understand my uniqueness and also be on-message?
Don’t assume your closest contacts know your value statement.
Here’s a test to find out if they do: Ask them what they think your value proposition is. If they answer in a way that present your next steps in your career, you are home free. If they do not, you need to do some work with them, too.
I believe that an executive must identify what he or she stands for as a leader in their industry today. To accomplish that, here are some sample questions (found in my book which includes 28% of the content as worksheets, questions, or action items to take) to get started:
- What is your particular leadership style?
- Why has your leadership style developed in the way that it has?
- What characteristics do you possess that make your leadership unique?
- What attributes within these characteristics signify a powerful leadership benefit to your potential employer?
- What unique attributes have your employers and employees identified with?
- What one leading attribute makes the most compelling message about you?
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