30 Jul

How to Raise Your Profile, Online and Off

It’s a question that comes up a lot: how do I stand out? how do I break in? how can I be successful?

The answers are simple, but they’re not easy.

Be active.

Presence isn’t enough. You have to act. Whether that means you’re a company looking to break into a new market, or the new face in a crowd at a networking event, you have to dosomething to get noticed. We can’t just show up anymore. We can’t just write a blog and hope people will read it. We can’t just pump product out into the marketplace and hope people will buy. We can’t just put up a Facebook page or post a tweet or two and expect that it’ll be enough. We have to act, and act consistently in ways that contribute to the goals we want to achieve.

So do something. Do many things. And keep doing them. There’s a big difference between “Act” and “Be active.” One is a moment in time, the other is a way of life.

Be awesome.

I know, I know, this gets overused, but the message is important: you have to be be good at something. Really good. The good news is you already are. Maybe that’s innovative product design, or spectacular customer service. Maybe that’s memorable campaigns, or reliable delivery. Maybe you’re a fantastic writer, or an unparalleled connector of people. Maybe you know the nonprofit space like the back of your hand, or have a gift for organizing. Maybe you’re a first-class jerk (but people want you, anyway). Maybe you’re a gifted teacher, or manager. Whatever it is, everyone has something they’re really good at. They do. Youdo.

So figure out what that is, and be it.

Be different.

The tricky thing about being awesome is that sometimes we don’t like what we’re good at, or, because we’re so good at it, it’s easy and doesn’t present a challenge to us. But trust me, if you’re so good at something that it’s boring to you, other people would kill to have that ease of ability. Trying to do something that someone else is good at (just because you don’t like your own talents) is a fast-track to being part of the pack. We remember firsts and bests, not seconds and me-toos.

So whatever it is you’re awesome at? Be that. And make it better.

Be you.

The best way to differentiate? Stop trying to compete. Stop following someone’s else path and make your own. Do you need to be aware of the marketplace and your position in it? Yes, you do. But I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone, or any company, who made their name through simple one-upmanship. You’ve got to change the game, and you can’t do that if all your attention is focused on what everyone else is doing. So focus on you, and how you want to play your game—because sometimes, it’s not whatyou do that’s different, it’s how.

So define that for yourself. Figure out what your beliefs are. What you value. Turn that into a mantra you repeat over and over, and use that as your yardstick.

Because you? You’re already different. And awesome.

Now what are you going to do about it?