There are only a couple more weeks left in 2014. Between the shopping, the holiday parties – there’s so much to occupy your time. I always have to remind myself that it is equally as important to buy my daughters Frozen dolls as it is to sign those end-of-year contracts and wrap up outstanding projects. And, of course, we can’t forget the ever important 2015 planning!
I am sure we are all looking forward to a well-deserved break, but here is what I am thinking about for next year:
How is your game? Do you feel 100% comfortable with all aspects of your role and knowledge set? How are your presentation skills? Do you know everything about that new offering, that new software version or that new topic? If you are honest with yourself the answer is, of course, no.
I don’t care what profession you are in, there is going to be some downtime in December. Well, maybe not if you work in retail. That industry is always crazy in December. So, if you are not in retail, use that time wisely this year. I know it is tempting to just sit back and relax, maybe watch some football or that old version of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But why not also spend some time reading up on the newest trends in digital? Yes, I am biased, but here on our blog is definitely a good start.
Become part of the conversation.
Make a plan to engage with your target audience/clients, not just talk at them or let them prescribe the plan. In my world, it is called selling as a consultant. In your world, it may mean being more involved in the annual planning discussion. It may mean asking that executive committee member a few follow up questions when something is handed down. It may mean contradicting someone when they are off track. It may mean simply saying no to an idea that no longer makes sense. Share your knowledge. As one of my earlier bosses said, you may think you don’t know enough about a topic, but you know more than someone hearing about it for the first time.
Be more social.
Make this the year to spend some time on your LinkedIn profile. Yes, I know that most of you have figured this out, but there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t see an incomplete profile. Maybe there’s no photo or, even worse, a cropped photo of the person from a wedding where they clearly had a couple of drinks. That is what Facebook is for, folks.
Questioning whether LinkedIn is important for professional services? Check out our most recent #1NWebinar.
Take another look at all of the accounts in your territory, geography and/or network, and forget all preconceived notions. Don’t get me wrong, this is much harder than you may think. We all have that account/contact/event out there that we’ve ignored because of one bad meeting four years ago. We remember it as if it were yesterday, and never revisit the situation. But don’t forget that things change. Don’t get caught up in the emotional side of selling and handcuff yourself from the next opportunity. Maybe their needs have changed; maybe that person isn’t there anymore; maybe your solutions have changed. As my Dad told me when I was 5, you never know until you ask. What happens if you don’t? You will soon find out that there is a long line of people behind you that will.
Don’t plan everything.
Leave some time and money in your 2015 budget for the unexpected. For me, it’s typically a conference that I want to attend, a new tool that we want to buy for the team or maybe just some extra cushion for the unknown. We do this every year and, without fail, we are glad we did.
We have all sat down in our office and said to ourselves, “I wish we didn’t do it that way,” or “why don’t we have a way to handle XYZ”. This is the year to make a list of those things and start a process for change. Yes, there are 101 objections, and some of the issues will be categorized as too big to fix, but do it anyway. Do you want to be the person next year that has a good understanding of all of the challenges facing the company, or do you want to be the person who solved that problem?
If you need a recommendation for where to read up on the latest trends, coolest sites and innovative creations, there is always our monthly “Best of” series to get you started.
Enjoy the rest of the year, and good luck wrapping up those deals and projects!