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 08/24/09

Twenty-One Top Twitter Tips… from Forbes

Still not convinced of the business value of Twitter? Forbes understands your concern and did some research for you – canvassing scads of businesses and pricey social-networking gurus looking for honest answers on how to make money – if you can make money – with the microblogging service. Their answers may surprise you, as they share 21 ways Twitter can have an impact, and not just as a marginal marketing tool.

College Optional?

Larry Cheng, Partner at Fidelity Ventures wonders aloud if college is necessary for a true entrepreneur. “Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher every day for four years in so many ways is exactly the opposite of what someone with an entrepreneurial DNA should want to do.” In this post, he outlines what he sees as a “blueprint to success” for those with no degree. First lesson? Take $1.00 and turn into $1.10 by this time next week.

Use Teamwork to Tackle Problems

Of course you know that teamwork is important, but in this Marketing Profs Daily Fix post, Paul Williams outlines in detail – complete with instruction template – how to create a GroupChallenge. Beyond basic brainstorming, a GroupChallenge is a simple and inexpensive way to―on an ongoing basis―inspire creativity and teamwork to generate ideas and solve problems.

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Group Challenge Setup - Image from Marketing Profs Daily Fix

Why Waltham Doesn’t Matter

For those on the East Coast, this piece by Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe has created quite a stir. Will it be the new turf war? Kirsner claims, “The new core of Boston venture capital has moved in closer to the city, toward Copley Square and Harvard Square,” and that “as a group, they [Waltham venture capitalists] represent the worst of the old-school business culture.” He has some great viewpoints on risk taking, the innovation economy and what he terms “the vibrant new culture of entrepreneurship.”

Should PR Professionals Use Social Media to Build Their Personal Brand?

PR Week takes a look at two opinions on one of the hottest debated topics in our office. How do you balance personal brand with your corporate brand? Should you? Two PR professionals weigh in.

Customer Service Part II – Do Your Customers Hate You?

On Friday we wrote about how customer service still matters. Today’s Boston Globe reiterates the importance of great customer care in a Business Filter blurb titled, “Customers Hate You.”

The Globe pulls a few gems from the recent Marketing Daily study, “America Suffering Customer-Service Meltdown,” indicating, “that about 62 percent of Americans say companies “don’t
care much” about their needs. That’s up from 52 percent in 2004.”

Looks like we were on the money last week when we mentioned that it’s nice to experience some human interaction in the day and age of “do-it-yourself” online services – the report states that “92 percent [of survey respondents] say they have tried to circumvent an automated phone tree
to find a real person, futilely jabbing at the zero and pound sign,” and that it’s one of their biggest frustrations.

Marketing Should Focus on Existing Customers as well as New Ones
“67% of the survey participants say marketers care more about selling existing products than really helping the customer, an increase from 58% in 2004.”

Marketing is often solely viewed as a lead generation function. But this report, and the loud frustrations echoed by today’s customers, indicates that it must wrap current customers into the mix as well. How does your marketing department work with customer service and relations? Should marketing focus on customer retention in addition to customer acquisition? Perhaps if more marketers worked closely with their existing customers they could build more honest, compelling and effective campaigns.

Your customer base is one of the best mouthpieces for your business – treat them well and they will naturally become a key part of your customer acquisition and marketing strategy – nothing speaks louder than a referral from a happy customer. Except maybe an unhappy one.

Are We Too Old for Facebook?

We are doing a lot of work on the social networking front here at PerkettPR – training workshops, new hires/social media staff and holding some really valuable analyst and media discussions. We’re following Forrester Research as you know, and their Groundswell activities, as well as watching closely for great examples of business use of social media. Many of these include YouTube and LinkedIn and some are extending campaigns to Facebook, MySpace and others.

A few weeks ago, Dan Costa of PC Magazine, wrote about social networking and indicated that perhaps some of the more popular of these sites do not hold credible value for the over-30 crowd. His column, “MySpace is Not Your Space,” provides a guideline (his opinion) on who should be on which site. While we don’t totally agree – we think some of his thoughts on the use of these sites are short sighted – it’s interesting to think about. (For example, he states “I am not trying to keep the 50-something, married software engineer away from the 17-year old coed cheerleader majoring in Art History—although maybe I should be.” We don’t’ think that’s what professionals are focusing on with their use of these sites – and can’t the two co-exist without crossing paths? For example, if we’re trying to reach high school students for a campaign, isn’t it better that we are involved in and understand the medium that we are using?)

We believe that social networking will continue to evolve as an industry and, while Facebook may not launch a separate site as Dan suggests, it has inspired many new sites that do provide a more laser focus on specific issues and groups. For example, our client Sermo focuses on medical doctors, other focused sites already exist for PR professionals, the town you live in and various hobbies – even venture capitalism, as today’s Boston Globe reported on next month’s launch of VentureNetwork.vc, an online social network for professionals looking for another channel to connect and talk shop. The user numbers on these sites may not reach Facebook’s level, but as we all continue to figure out the value and monetary possibilities for such communities, the value will increase regardless of the numbers – camaraderie, additional support and encouragement, new networks, collective insight and more are invaluable.

For example, Guy Kawasaki wrote a great blog post at AlwaysOn regarding how one of the less-understood social networking tools, Twitter, can add value today. Many people out there don’t get the value of Twitter (we just started exploring this ourselves) and may say, as Dan does about MySpace and Facebook, that it’s a better tool for the younger crowd with time on their hands. Guy shows that it’s so much more – already driving “tens of thousands of page views,” debunking rumors and extending networks. And, since no one person seems to really have the answers on social networking’s value to business – yet – keep exploring, keep trialing and keep sharing your insights.

Another Boom = Another Bust? What do you think?

 

Sunday’s Boston Globe had an interesting article on the tech industry and its future among the recession fears. One interesting note was how some of the “survivors” have been the what-some-might-consider “less sexy” cousins of all the Internet darlings, “Indeed, the infrastructure and enterprise products scorned by Internet highfliers early in the decade – from data storage equipment to accounting software – have become platforms of growth and stability in today’s technology economy.”

 

Several of our clients echo that sentiment as they continue to move forward with innovative, useful technologies that are key drivers to the growing tech sector. While not quite the “media darlings” as many yet-unproven Web 2.0 companies, they are solid, growing companies with innovative products and services, real customers – and revenue.

 

Judging from today’s news alone – coming from such clients as Lightstorm Networks, Sycamore Networks, Gotuit and more – solid, continued growth continues to sustain the economy – with companies solving real problems for real, paying customers. We are proud to work with this generation of tech leaders – although we do kind of miss all those fun dot com names such as pets.com, furniture.com, vote.com and more. Maybe there was something about such simple, obvious names that contributed to the downfall… simple names = too simple of an idea backed by too much money, perhaps?

 

Check out today’s news and let us know what you think. Is there a tech bust looming?

 

  • Gotuit – video navigation and search leader signs Fox Reality Channel, the only all-reality, all-the-time network; check out The Fox Reality Channel Really Awards 2007 now to watch last year’s awards ceremony and vote for the Most Memorable Reality TV Star for 2007
  • Lightstorm Networks – new Carrier Ethernet Silicon player emerges
  • Q1 Labsnetwork security management company sponsors a SANS Network Security Lunch & Learn
  • Sycamore Networks - (NASDAQ: SCMR) – a new Intelligent Multiservice Switch from one of the market’s longstanding leaders in intelligent networking solutions for fixed line and mobile network operators worldwide