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Young professionals: you have to be seen to be successful

Former executive vice-president of Telus, educator, adviser and author of Be Different or Be Dead.

What is the secret to both the organization that leads the market and the person who has a successful career?

What do they possess in common?

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What do they pay attention to that others don't?

Do they have a special academic pedigree? A broad skill set? A deep personal network? Significant financial resources?

All of these, of course, are contributing factors to success, but the highest common denominator is the ability for an organization or individual to be seen by people that matter.

Seen by customers. Seen by bosses. Seen by investors. Seen by recruiters.

If you're not seen by those who influence whether you succeed, you're not noticed; you are indistinguishable in the noise and clutter and don't resonate with anyone.

If you're not seen by those who control your fate, your chances of getting the job you want and launching a successful career are limited.

These six ways to be seen have been tested on the battlefield. They work.

1. Pay attention to your target: the person(s) you are trying to sell yourself to. Know them intimately – what they desire, what they covet. Being seen begins with doing your homework. It doesn't happen through serendipity.

2. Determine 3 things you will do/deliver that will address the highest-priority requirements of your target. Don't try to boil the ocean. You can't be all things to all people. Selecting a few things that really matter is critical. Focus on the essentials, and leave the other (relatively unimportant) needs to others.

3. Deliver your stuff unconventionally. This is the most important step in being seen. If what you do/deliver is traditional, common and follows herd behaviour, you won't be seen. You will have no identity other than that of another one of those people/organizations who look alike and who have no creative bones in their bodies.

4. Go in the opposite direction of everyone else. Again, if you are like the crowd, you will get engulfed by their momentum and blend in with them. "Bite the dog" and see what happens.

5. Create your statement of uniqueness that governs everything you do and defines how you are different than the competition you face for opportunities.

6. Keep your eye on your competition; they will likely be watching you, if you are being seen, and will try to copy your approach. When confronted by a copycat, you must create a new persona to deal with the desires of your target. Nothing lasts forever, so be prepared to change your approach on the run.

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Success is a function of delivering what people desire in a way that is different than anyone else, because it's the only way to be seen.

Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.

‘They care a lot about values, they care about the purpose of organizations, they want to be inspired’ Special to Globe and Mail Update
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