Are You Invaluable?

Yesterday’s Boston Globe reported that the jobless plight continues: “5 million Americans have been out of work for more than six months, a record number that forecasts a slow, difficult recovery and a long period of high unemployment, according to Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies.”

If you are fortunate enough to have a job or a healthy customer list, are you making yourself invaluable to your employer? To your customers? Are you striving to do everything possible to move prospects from viewing your company or products as a “nice to have” to a “must have”? Are you doing everything possible to ensure your name never appears on the “short list” when management has to think about cost cutting? If not, why not?

Even if you believe that you are in a comfortable place with your job or customers, you should be striving to do everything possible to be seen as invaluable. Invaluable means it would hurt to lose you and – as much as one can be -  that you are irreplaceable. As an employee, you should especially drive to be irreplaceable because with the job market as it is, there are plenty of available workers who will line up to fill your shoes should they become vacant.

A few esy ways to become invaluable:

  • Don’t do what’s asked. Do more without having to be asked.
  • Go beyond the obvious. Attending a networking event? Reading a book? Joining a webinar? How can you bring lessons, leads or other value back to your organization or to your clients?
  • Pay attention to the competition (even if it’s not “your” job). Whether it’s another vendor or an industry colleague, know what they’re doing. Then strive to do more, better. Make suggestions to management to keep the entire company ahead of the curve.
  • Be visible. Visit your clients, ask your boss to lunch, send one new idea a day to your managers.
  • Don’t miss a brainstorm. In fact, suggest them yourself. And speak up during every single one. (Meetings, too!)
  • Be selfless. While it’s hard to think of others during a time when “personal branding” is all the rage, don’t forget about your existing employer or customers. Be sure that your efforts can be seen as mutually beneficial – to both you and your organization (or clients/customers).
  • Forget about your job description. Or at least don’t stay within its boundaries. Offer to take on new projects, grab assignments normally reserved for others when you see staff shortages, etc.
  • Improve, innovate, inspire. The recession can be tough on everyone – including your boss. While it can be hard to stay positive and upbeat, doing so will help you to stand out as a leader. A negative, controversial attitude will only make the situation worse – and it will be remembered. But working hard to improve everything you do, innovate in the way you do things, and inspiring others to do better will help you to be invaluable now – and well into the future.

What’s your advice for becoming invaluable?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/31/09

You Should Stop Sleeping With Your LaptopWhy You Should Stop Sleeping With Your Laptop
B.L. Ochman lends some sound advice to the current generation of web-workers in this entertaining post that serves as a wake up call to unplug and get a life!

Are you a social media addict?
Following along with a similar topic to my first pick, Scott Kleinberg from the ChicagoNow’s Redeye blog shares five fun signs that you might be a social media addict.

A Framework for Branding Through Social Media
Jordan Julien suggests five methods of communicating with your online communities to better map out your social media strategies.

7 Reasons Social Media Is A No-Brainer For Passionate B2C Brands
B2C brands that are still hesitant to make the plunge into social media might benefit from Adam Singer’s seven reasons to jump in sooner rather than later.

Using Classic PR Techniques To Support Brands In Social Networks
Marty Weintraub shares seven existing PR channels that can be leveraged to help feed information into a social media presence on a regular basis.

The Anatomy of a Social Media Professional – and Why You Need One

I recently spoke at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce breakfast where I discussed the need for a dedicated social media manager to help strategize, launch and manage a social media program.

Since many of the attendees were from smaller companies, I stressed that any business – big or small – could benefit from implementing some form of social media strategy into their organization. An example I used to help make my point was to compare Starbucks with the Crème Brulee cart in San Francisco. Both businesses are using Twitter and seeing great results to drive business to their location, but one is a multi-national chain and the other is a small food cart roaming around San Francisco. They couldn’t be more different, yet they are using the same tools to connect and engage with their loyal fans.

If you don’t think you need help managing your social media efforts, you might want to take a closer look at the time investment required to ensure it’s done well. Sure, some of you may be able to manage it all while also running your business, but to do it right, it needs to be more than an afterthought – and most executives just don’t have the bandwidth to focus on doing both jobs effectively at the same time.

You also aren’t likely to have the time to “be everywhere” – listening, engaging, responding – but a dedicated social media professional can do this for you. Consistency is crucial to ensure results. A dedicated focus on social media efforts = a quicker time to value.

You also don’t want to have a “Nelson” moment by not paying attention to your brand online. Some examples I used during the Chamber Breakfast included Domino’s Pizza and United Airlines to show the difference between a brand listening and responding immediately (Domino’s) and another that chose to ignore for more than a year (United).

So, what should you look for in a social media professional? We asked David Meerman Scott this question while attending SXSW Interactive earlier this year. You can check out the video here, but I summed it up with this intricate graphic I call “The Anatomy of a Social Media Professional.”

As David also pointed out in his interview with us, when you are seeking help with your social media efforts, it’s important that you do your homework and make sure whoever you hire has the qualifications needed to get the job done. If they aren’t out there practicing what they preach, or if they can’t point to any ROI as a result of their efforts, than you might want to keep searching.

What do you think? Do you think a dedicated social media professional is necessary in business? What qualities do you think a social media professional should have – did we miss anything in our anatomy slide? We would love to get your thoughts in the comment section below.