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One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote: “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” A similar quote is this: “Build a better mousetrap, fail to advertise it or let people know about it, and the world will beat a path around your door.”
If people don’t know about the true value of what you are offering, they will simply ignore you. You need to broadcast your value constantly in everything you do. Let me share with you a pair of quick stories about how to broadcast your value, and the importance of doing this.
Donald Trump is not the biggest real estate tycoon in the United States, although he is great at what he does. There are numerous men who have vastly larger real estate holdings than Mr. Trump. What Mr. Trump does, however, is broadcast his success everywhere he goes. He gives speeches; he does television shows; he writes books; he does countless media interviews. Everything that Trump does is geared toward self-promotion. He does all of this because he knows the attention he receives from his promotional efforts will keep him visible and make his personal brand name stronger.
When I was practicing law several years ago, I was on a large case with attorneys from several different law firms. One of the attorneys kept sending me and the other attorneys on the case various articles he was reading during his spare time, about relevant legal issues. I never forgot that attorney because this behavior was so unusual. That attorney went on to become very well known, and he ultimately became an important politician. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that he was the most visible and managed to stay close to mind for many people.
If you do extra work behind the scenes, tell your superiors. In your career you need to educate people as to why they should work with you as opposed to other people, and one of the best ways of doing this is to do lots of work behind the scenes. If you go out of your way to say something positive about your boss to a coworker, tell your boss. If you are running an errand and get your boss extra service, tell your boss. At every single turn, you should be very clear about the value that you are providing and ensure that your bosses are keenly aware of what you are doing.
Nothing is assumed. One example of this is in the construction and marketing of a car. Automakers go into excruciating detail in telling prospective buyers everything they do to make a car as safe as possible. The automaker has to tell people the size of the engine, the number of airbags, the sophistication of the stereo system, and everything special that the car does, because the buyers assume nothing. You want to know this information when you are making a purchase. In the same way, your supervisors (or the person who is hiring you) wants to know the value you are bringing when they hire you and while you are working for them. Do your best to communicate your value to those around you at all times.
Show that you have passion for what you do. One of the ways to educate your superiors as to why they should be working with you is to demonstrate that you have a passion for your subject matter. For example, let your superiors know that you like to study materials related to your profession during your spare time. Forward them articles and keep books lying on your desk regarding the subject matter of what you do. Become a member of clubs and other organizations related to what you do. Having genuine passion and interest in your profession also shows that you are likely to have more insight into it and that you will probably be better at your chosen job, whether it is in public relations, health care, or government.
I once watched a relatively unknown marketing person sell probably $100,000 worth of CDs and other instructional materials after giving a one-hour speech. The man got up on stage and started talking about how he had the largest collection of marketing books in the world and had read them all. He spoke about how he loved marketing and was extremely passionate about it. Given that he was relatively unknown, I think it was the fact that he communicated a major amount of passion for what he did that assisted him in selling so many CDs and other products. Essentially, people seemed to feel that if he was so enthusiastic about marketing, he must be someone they could trust to teach them about marketing.
When you are communicating with your superiors or with people interested in hiring you, you must appeal to what they are interested in. Ultimately, you need to be concerned about what other people believe is most important, not necessarily what you think is most important.
In 2002, the market for corporate attorneys in the United States was absolutely horrible. One firm in Denver, Colorado, had an opening for a corporate attorney, one of the few openings in the United States. The firm was using our legal recruiting firm, BCG Attorney Search, exclusively. The qualifications of the candidates who were interviewing for that one opening were absolutely fantastic. Most of the candidates interviewed were from the best law firms, the best law schools, and all had stellar communication skills. The job of one partner in the law firm was to interview about twenty-five different candidates and to hire one. After a few interviews, the partner told us that basically all of the candidates seemed pretty much the same.
One of the candidates had an interest in snowboarding and spoke about this interest during the interview. The partner he was speaking with was also an avid snowboarder, and the two spoke about the sport at length. As you can imagine, this is the person who was hired for the job. He spoke in terms of the other person’s interest. The reason the candidate had started talking about snowboarding in his interview was that he had noticed that the partner had a picture of himself snowboarding on his wall. The candidate could see that the interviewer was bored by the procession of candidates coming through, and he wanted to ensure that he stood out.
It is important career advice that you communicate in terms of the other person’s interest. If your value to the organization is the fact that you can snowboard, and that you can quickly bond with your coworkers, that is perfectly fine. If your potential employer is interested in discussing stamp collecting, do your best to discuss that too. Whatever it takes.
Your superiors, or the person who is hiring you, needs to ensure that the business they are working for makes money. They need to make sure that what you are offering can contribute to the bottom line. Contributing high value, and broadcasting that value to your superiors, is key to securing and maintaining your position within any organization.
You need to constantly broadcast your value in your current job; make sure that your bosses are aware of what you are doing and the value you are providing them. Your supervisor or potential employer wants to know what you bring to their organization. In order to accomplish this, work behind the scenes and make sure your boss is aware of everything you do!