posted 4 Mar 2009 in Volume 12 Issue 5
Opinion: Become more relevant
So, here we are in another new year. Iím still not sure where the last few went. Surprisingly Iím feeling a lot better about things now than at the end of the last year. With all the doom and gloom news around, it seemed like the end was near and in fact, according the calendar, it was. Somehow the beginning of the year gives us time to take inventory and make a fresh start, despite the unpleasant tidings for the months ahead.
Donít get me wrong, Iíve never been one to makes lots of resolutions but I have been thinking a lot about the state of the market and the economy and have decided that the best thing for me to do is become more relevant.
In my firm, we have seen a remarkable decline in business which may be easily attributable to external factors. Yes, a few clients cancelled projects as they themselves went through significant cutbacks but I work in web consulting and if there were ever a time when I Ė and anyone else who works on the web Ė can be relevant, itís now. Google has created an entire empire around the web and we all have high expectations in the online world, but what about applying it to us, personally?
Relevancy, for me, has several meanings. First, Iím defining it by context. Anyone can be the holder of information and knowledge, but the application of that to a certain situation at the right time is the key to success. Kind of like planning how youíre going to be in the right place at the right time.
Second, relevancy means understanding the current conditions in which you operate and creating a niche for yourself. For example, if you were an expert in apples and pears and there were already someone else who knew more about pears than you, then Iíd focus on getting my knowledge of apples up to scratch in addition to keeping my pear knowledge current and seeing what I could learn from the pear expert.
This way Iíd complement instead of compete with the current climate and I would be more valuable in times of cutbacks as I can apply myself to more than one fruit, so to speak.
For me personally, I am thinking of increasing my relevancy ranking by sharpening up my technical skills that have lapsed over the past few years due to fast-changing technologies and my involvement more on the strategy side of things. I have a bit of extra time on my hands. Instead of barraging potential clients with marketing materials I doubt theyíll read, I am going to take this time to increase my knowledge.
Iíll start on the technical side of the web by doing some online learning in design and programming. I also plan on exploring opportunities to attend conferences and make an effort to network with more ex-colleagues (over a few glasses of wine) to see what theyíre up to.
And thinking about my firm, Iím hoping our relevancy ranking can be increased by understanding what additional skills we all have and how we can leverage those alongside the ones we all use on a regular basis. Are there things we can add to our mix that will give us a competitive edge? I am going to conduct a short analysis of where we could use more help and see how we can train to fill those gaps or begin multi-tasking so weíre all more relevant across the projects we do, which could lead to a higher project win rate as well as a better utilisation rate.
Finally, as Iíve been thinking about my own personal relevancy ranking, itís occurred to me that itís going to be important to tell people about it, not just wait for someone to scroll through pages of results before they find me or my firm. And this is where Iíve come back to my first definition and the importance of context. With budget and staff cuts everywhere, I feel anyone making a choice in these tough times must consider the context in which their solution will live over time. And with this understanding of context should come relevancy.
With a limited pot of money, it would be easy to simply choose the lowest cost solution to the problem but this may actually turn out to more expensive in the long run as it wasnít fit for purpose Ė or relevant.
So welcome 2009! I am looking forward to putting my relevancy theories to the test and making my goal for the new year to understand how I, personally Ė along with my firm Ė can become relevant to these tough times in which we are living. You should do the same.
I am looking forward to taking classes and using my time to improve my knowledge, not just worrying about things that are beyond my control. Now I just need to stop going on Facebook.
As always, Iíd love to hear your thoughts too. Send all relevant e-mails to Lynda@foursquaremedia.net