As co-director of Key Person of Influence in Australia I come across a lot of entrepreneurs who want to further establish themselves as leaders in their industry. Every year we have close to 300 entrepreneurs who we work with intensively over 9 months to develop 5 soft skills to commercialise their value and raise their profile in their industry.
However, what if you’re an employee? Are these 5 skills still relevant? The answer is of course yes, but the way you go about applying them requires a shift from employee-mindset thinking to treating your career like a business.
Let me explain. There are 5 proven principles for establishing industry influence:
1. You need to be able to communicate your core value clearly through a great PITCH
2. You need to PUBLISH your ideas so your message can spread and build industry credibility
3. You need to PRODUCTISE your intellectual property
4. You need to raise your PROFILE online and in traditional media so you get found & noticed
5. You need to PARTNER with key people in your industry to leverage your value and scale
Let’s look at why you’re going to get hired for your dream job (or move up the ranks of your existing organisation). To be clear, the only reason you were hired in the first place was because your employer had a problem (or a set of problems of varying complexity) they needed solving. By virtue of those problems, your role is created entirely for the purpose of solving them. As an employee you simply work on solving those problems full-time.
In business the same principles apply. The only difference is you have multiple customers, who all have a defined set of problems, which you’re in business to solve. In this narrow thought experiment, the only difference between the entrepreneur and the employee is you spread your time across solving problems for multiple clients rather than just one.
And this is really where the shift in mindset comes in. As an employee, you need to see you’re in the business of solving problems for just one client as opposed to many, but all the same economic forces and principles of business apply. There is competition and its a free market – so if you’re not surprising and delighting your one client then they will look elsewhere. If you’re incompetent at solving their problems, you’ll get chewed up and spat out. If you don’t deliver on your promises, don’t expect to get paid what you originally negotiated (your salary).
Caveat: This thought experiment is more theoretical than reality. There are all sorts of laws and regulations that prevent free-market forces from rewarding high performance in an employer-employee relationship. However, as an employee, adopting these principles as truth will serve you more in getting to where you want to go – even if the safety net of Industrial Relations law exists.
Specifically though, I’ve found a lot of employees get stuck on how to approach productising their expertise. Because its unnatural as an employee to think you have a product to sell. Of course, you do – you are the product.
As the creator of the KPI methodology and in his latest book ‘Entrepreneur Revolution’, Daniel Priestley describes there are 3 distinct layers of product all business owners must have in order to be oversubscribed with clients. Well it turns out so too must employees if they want to be oversubscribed with career opportunities. In a business context, it means creating what we call an ‘Ascending Transaction Model’:
What does this look like for an employee?
As an employee (just like in business), you have a market. Your market of ‘customers’ are the employers who hold the key to your dream job. They have the set of problems you’re particularly well suited to solving and they’re willing to pay your dream salary to have you solve them. What do you need to do to land that sort of job?
Well conventional wisdom says you should hit the pavement and start hunting. Lots of interviews, lots of conversations, lots of convincing. In business, we call it sales, marketing and advertising. But what’s the problem with sales, marketing and advertising in today’s world? It’s noisy and it’s highly competitive. You’re merely one of many potential candidates for the gig, how do you stand out from the rest? What do you do to differentiate? How do you create an energy of attraction in the job market (inbound enquiry / job offers) as opposed to a needy, chasing (and ultimately repulsive) energy.
It begins with productising your expertise. You see…
Being great at your job requires you to mine deep into your IP. Therefore, there are surface layers of that IP which give an employer an insight into the depth of your knowledge, and some IP provides the complete and remarkable solution to their problems. You want to package those different layers of IP into products that you can either give away for free (via the web, in 1-1 interviews, to recruitment agencies etc) and also create low cost, high value products that demonstrate value, partially solve the employers problems and yet leave the full and complete solution to hiring you full-time.
There are so many manifestations of what those products could be, based on your industry and your expertise. This is what we specialise in working with people on developing in our 40-week growth accelerator program.
Ultimately, I think it’s useful to ask yourself the question, what is valued in today’s economy and how can you be a sign of the times? Is it having a polished, albeit static CV of your education and experience? Or is it having products and well-packaged IP that demonstrate real value and solves problems for your employer? It’s not hard for me to see which one I’d back.
Combine that with a killer pitch, great published content that gets shared, a profile online and offline and being well connected to key people in your industry who by association lead to greater opportunities and you’ve got a winning formula for becoming a Key Employee of Influence.