Scope Out Your Competition
When was the last time you compared your work to a peer’s, either a co-worker or someone that has a similar role to you within the industry? Most likely it was sometime recently. Why? Because it can often be difficult to see faults in your work when you are so heavily invested or so close to a project. Over time, it can be easy to get into a professional rut. You develop a case of work blinders where you get into a routine and stop looking for how you can do your job better. While it may seem like a case of “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” this is often when competitors can swoop in and outperform you.
Much like the first resolution, scoping out your competition comes down to the importance of getting an outside perspective to determine how you can step up your game. Be your own harshest critic and compare what you are doing with other big players in your space.
The best case (read highly improbable) scenario is that there is absolutely nothing you could improve upon and everything stays status quo. However, it is more likely that you can identify several areas that need improvement and plan out what adjustments are needed in the New Year. In this industry, competition isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so why not start using it to your advantage?
Go Back To Basics
The truth is technology can’t do it all and sometimes the best way to improve professionally is by going back to the basics of good business. Every innovative new idea isn’t always going to play out as you had hoped and sometimes less is more. It is important to remember the fundamentals while you’re launching new initiatives in the New Year.
If you were meeting with a client that only spoke Spanish, you wouldn’t speak to him in English and hope he understood what you were saying. Good communication is key and the way you communicate matters. Be straightforward and transparent with your customers. You never want to surprise people at the last minute because you tiptoed around an important detail or neglected to tell them in the first place.
It is also important to be available to your customers through numerous channels of communication (email, phone, video calls, face-to-face meetings, etc.). Allow people to connect with you in the method they are most comfortable with. If you were to use email as your sole method of communication because you felt it is more convenient, most customers wouldn’t mind. However, it isn’t worth losing out on customers that prefer to have their questions answered over the phone or face-to-face just to save some time.
This leads to another basic but often overlooked concept. Customer service is key. The bottom line is, people are often willing to pay more for great customer service. So never forget the importance of treating your customers right. Also keep in mind that if there is one thing that people remember more than great customer service, it’s awful customer service. People may forget to leave a positive review when they have a good experience because that is what they have come to expect, however it seems when someone has a bad experience, they go out of their way to blast that message everywhere. One of the easiest ways to lure customers away from your competition is to provide better customer service.
Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Although this may sound like it falls more within the realm of a personal New Year’s resolution, it’s equally relevant in a professional setting. It is important to be willing to go outside of your professional comfort zone to grow in your field.
Many people find attending networking events and conferences intimidating. Think of it this way though, even attending just one event gives you the ability to make face-to-face connections with people that you may not normally have a chance to speak with. Building a robust professional network is a great way to gain new insight into your industry and access new opportunities.
Creating and publishing content is another nerve-wracking task. It can be stressful to think about the sheer number of people that will read what you have written and critique it in some way. The benefit of getting your name out in the industry is worth the stress though. Plus it can be satisfying knowing that people are learning more about you and your business because of something you wrote.
Maybe you are afraid of public speaking. Numerous organizations specialize in helping their members with public speaking. Never turn down the opportunity to speak as an authority on a topic if you have the knowledge. Doing so creates a level of credibility that may otherwise be difficult to achieve.
If you aren’t comfortable diving in headfirst, try volunteering for a project that may not be the norm for you. It could be the first step to bigger and better things.
Stick To Your Resolutions
Be careful not to fall into the trap of pushing your resolutions to the back of your mind and letting them fall by the wayside. Setting monthly or even quarterly goals for each resolution is a simple and effective way to keep yourself on track. This also allows you to keep tabs on your progress to see just how far you’ve come since the start of the year. Just like with personal New Year’s resolutions, professional resolutions only work when you stick to them.