Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter April 2011
Welcome to BSBM Newsletter
Contributions from you, our students, are very welcome, if you have information, advice, website links, or ideas, that may be of help to other students, please send them to us.
Personal & Career Development Tip of the Month
Despite the negativity created by the effects of the recession, now is a good time to carry out some professional development research.
A valuable first step is to research current and forecast trends in your particular business sector, and identify where the opportunities are, or will be, and also where there will be less, or no opportunities.
If prospects look bleak in your current sector, extend your research to sectors which you feel you would be happy to move into.
This will help you to decide on which pathways to follow, which objectives to aim for – allowing you to update your professional development action plan based on solid information which takes into account the current and likely changes happening in the workplace.
April Theme Marketing You
Following on from the advice given above, it is vital today to ensure that you are presenting a positive image of yourself, to your current employer or clients, or to future ones.
Competition in the workplace for positions, for promotions, or for clients and customers if self-employed, has never been so fierce, and all the experts agree that this will continue for at least the next 5 years, perhaps longer, and may well become even fiercer.
Marketing Yourself Successfully
This article is aimed particularly at the managers, professionals, and specialists who are studying on management development courses or professional qualifications, by distance learning or in the classroom, in order to develop their careers. It is designed to provide advice and guidance on strategies and tactics that will make them more attractive to current and potential employers or to customers and clients if an entrepreneurial route is taken.
The Need To Be Marketable
Around the world the market for skilled people, for professionals, for generalists and specialists, is increasing exponentially. Ironically, at the same time the market is demanding only specific skills, knowledge, understanding, experience and qualifications, and these are often not the traditionally known ones. Remaining marketable in such fast changing and demanding times is now essential if an individual is to continue to be successful in their work. It is not enough to have traditional skill sets, nor rely on qualifications which have been superseded by more modern versions or completely replaced.
To remain marketable it is essential to continuously, appropriately, and visibly, update your qualifications, skills, knowledge, and understanding. Additionally, in many business sectors you will need to demonstrate that your experiences are also current, varied, and relevant.
The Marketing Concept
Successful providers of goods or services adopt what is known as the Marketing Concept. This, in essence, is the producing or selling organisation focusing primarily on identifying the needs and wants of the customer, rather than the operational capabilities of the organisation. This customer driven approach ensures that the organisation is aware of current and likely future customer needs and enables it to provide products that it knows certain customers will purchase.
Of course, other factors, such as competitor activity and background changes in the marketplace, are very important, and will be factored in to the strategies. It is this approach that must be taken by the individual seeking to be successful in their careers.
Applying The Marketing Concept
To remain marketable, to be successful in finding new opportunities, to make good progress in whatever field you have chosen, you will need to adopt the marketing concept to yourself. This means researching what your customers or clients want. If you are intent on staying within your current organisation, you must research and establish what are their current – but more importantly – future people needs – what skills, experience, expertise, qualifications, are they seeking from their key people.
To highlight the importance of this, consider what an external applicant, applying for a post in your organisation, would do. Correct – research and present themselves in a way which matches the needs of the organisation as closely as possible.
If you are planning to change organisations, or sectors, or to set up a business, the same applies – you must identify the current and future needs of your chosen target. If you do not, then it is highly likely that your profile will not meet their needs.
Researching Your Target Market
This is the most essential first step. You will need to consider which markets you are targeting, which customers. In other words – which business sectors and which organisations or which clients and customers if you are setting up a business.
This is not an easy task but it is critical that you do this well.
If you are planning to remain employed then much information is readily available, directly from organisations and from business sector trade organisations, indirectly from sector reports, educational research, educational institutions who provide sector or profession specific courses, educational departments of professional associations, marketing companies, government departments. The danger is that many of these information providers may themselves not be up to date with the latest developments and trends, so you will need to cross-check most information.
If you are planning to set up a business, then you will need to carry out market research on your potential customers or clients. Armed with information on the current and forecast condition and the current and future people or services needs, of your target markets, you can then move on to the next step.
Identifying Your Current Attributes
The essential second step is to carry out an analysis of your current skills, experience, qualifications, and ongoing development activities. The best and most simple tool to do this with is the SWOT analysis: identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then the opportunities available to you and the threats that face you. You can do this alone, but it is much better to seek help from others, such as a coach, mentor, human resource specialist, line manager, or friend who can give advice and support objectively. When you have identified your strengths consider how these can be enhanced. When you have identified your weakness (in relation to your target customer’s needs) you should plan how to reduce or eliminate them. In both areas, this will probably mean taking on personal and-or professional development activities, which we will discuss below.
Opportunities will need to be assessed in two stages: firstly those available to you now, given your current profile, and secondly those that will be available to you after you have made yourself more marketable, by enhancing your strengths and taking positive action to eliminate or reduce your weaknesses. Threats are also best assessed in two stages: firstly those currently facing you, and secondly those that are likely to arise in the future.
As you can see, identifying your current attributes is a major task, but one that is highly valuable and essential if you are to move forward successfully.
Identifying Transferable Attributes
As we are illustrating in this article, your most valuable transferable skill may well be that of being willing to continuously develop yourself. That aside, there are other attributes that will be highly valuable. Whether you are considering moving into another business sector, or setting up your own business, then in the process of carrying out the SWOT analysis, you should add a category where you can list your current transferable skills. These are skills, experience, qualifications, knowledge, that you already possess and which will be valuable in your new work situation. These attributes can range through the hard to the soft, and can include contacts, experiences, specialist expertise, a passion for certain type of work, qualifications, internet skills, foreign languages, and so on.
Personal Development Activities
After you have completed the analysis of your targeted markets, and of your current skills, the next step is to draw up a development action plan that will fill identified gaps, enhance strengths, reduce or eliminate weaknesses, prepare you to take advantage of opportunities and equip you with the means to defend against threats.
Preparing a personal professional development plan is a major task and should not be taken lightly.
Advice and guidance should be obtained from appropriate sources, even if this is simply to research current best practice, by using the internet and-or textbooks. Your plan should be designed to develop yourself in a way which results in your profile matching that of the target markets. It is unlikely that you will achieve a complete match in a short space of time, but you must start the journey with that in mind.
Considerable help is available, from professional associations, sector specific educational qualification providers, private business schools, public colleges and universities, and can be studied in distance learning, classroom, or on the job formats.
Some development areas are widely useful, such as courses in general business and management, quality management, project management, and marketing, whilst other subjects can be highly useful if identified as a specific need, such as risk management, event management, financial awareness, strategic planning, and customer relationships. There are, of course, many more that could be essential development areas.
In addition to the necessary personal development activity, there are other avenues that should be explored.
These include: networking, which is seen in some sectors as a valuable marketing tool for employed and for self-employed people; building a presence by publishing articles, in relevant journals or internet directories or publishing a weblog, or even writing and publishing a book on your business specialism; taking on public speaking; joining and participating in local branches of professional associations.
These are but a few of the many ways of promoting yourself, which can be explored in more depth through research on the internet.
The message here is very simple – you must take action.
Whatever your marketplace it will be highly competitive and highly demanding. You will need to be actively managing your participation, your self-marketing, in order to be amongst the successful participants.
There are some common pitfalls that can damage the process.
The main danger areas are:
Allowing current workload to prevent you from taking the action described here. You will almost certainly never be less busy, it’s the way of the modern business world that the amount and the pace of change is continuously increasing, and this translates into workload;
You are tempted to focus on technical, operational skills, rather than broader, more conceptual skills, such as interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, or strategic approaches;
You become committed to a position because it was easy to obtain. If this happens it is unlikely that the attraction of the post will last;
You limit your opportunities by trying to match your existing skills with opportunities;
You limit your opportunities by carrying out little or insufficient research; You limit your opportunities by not looking beyond your current business sector;
You procrastinate and don’t take action.
All of these are fatal mistakes. You must avoid them and take positive, realistic action, now.
Making yourself more marketable, more attractive, more credible, more interesting, is an essential skill in today’s highly competitive, complex, and fast-changing business world. The need to show evidence of continuous personal and professional development is no longer expected of the few, or in certain professions only. It is now mandatory in all business sectors, and in all organisations, be they private or public, commercial or non-profit making.
The most successful individuals embrace this requirement and add it to the range of skills that they equip themselves with, and then develop it with passion and commitment.
To make yourself more marketable you have to take that task very seriously, and commit appropriate effort and energy to it. If you can also add passion for continuous development and learning, the rewards will be considerable.
“You can’t do that!” “That’s way too difficult!” “If you try, you’ll probably just fail anyway.” These statements sound as if they’re coming from a tyrannical and cruel person with a mission to destroy self-confidence.
Unfortunately, all too often, we can be the tyrant and our target can be our self.
Negative self-talk is something we have all probably engaged in at some time. When it rears its ugly head on a regular basis it, it can lead to self-sabotage, and can stop us achieving our goals and dreams.
What’s worse is that we usually don’t recognize that it’s even happening. Instead, we attribute our lack of success to inadequacy. This, in turn, strengthens the negative messages we feed ourselves, and we get caught in a self-sabotaging cycle that can be very difficult to break.
The tell-tale sign that you are sabotaging your self is when you grind to a halt when you’re trying to achieve your goals, for no rational reason. The skill, ability and desire are there: It’s just that something stops you moving forward.
When you feel that you can’t do something you should be able to do, or that you shouldn’t do something, even though you know deep down that you want or need to do it, self-sabotage is at work.
There are some common themes in self-sabotaging behavior. See if you recognize yourself in any of these examples:
Knowing you should be working on something, but putting it off again and again;
Starting projects, but never quite finishing them; or
Feeling unmotivated or unable to proceed, even when there are lots of exciting opportunities.
Dreaming of doing something, but never doing anything about it.
Fretting over things that really shouldn’t matter;
Fearing that if you fail others will think less of you;
Worrying that if you’re successful, your friends won’t like you any more;
Doubting yourself and your abilities even though you “know” you are very capable; or
Feeling stressed and anxious, and perhaps suffering from unexplained depression or panic attacks when trying to achieve something important to you.
Using aggressive rather assertive communication and not taking steps to change this; or
Destroying relationships with others (family, friends, co-workers) with anger, resentment or jealously.
Feelings of Worthlessness:
Exaggerating other people’s achievements, and diminishing your own;
Taking even unfair or misguided criticism to heart; or
Letting others put you down.
Whatever your personal self-sabotaging behavior is, you MUST overcome it if you are to make the most of your career. If you allow yourself to engage in negative self-talk, you erode your self-confidence and self esteem. And with every failed attempt, you “prove” to yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t do the thing you want.
And as you continue spiralling down, you become more and more frustrated, discouraged, and angry with yourself. These feelings trap you and keep you from doing whatever it is you need to do to break free.
Fortunately, you can escape self-sabotaging behavior and this starts with recognizing the negative messages you send to yourself.
Breaking the Cycle of Self-sabotage
1. Recognize Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
In order to stop self-sabotage, you first need to recognize your own self-sabotaging behavior. Ask yourself:
What goals have you had for yourself for a long time and never been able to accomplish?
What do you consistently fail at, for no obvious reason?
Are there particular areas where you find yourself procrastinating or putting off making a decision?
Are you suffering from lack of motivation to do something that you should want to do?
Do you find yourself unreasonably angry or frustrated, and is this affecting your relationships?
Is there an area where other people (and in particular, your boss) consistently get frustrated with you? or
Is there something in your life that nags at you and causes you dissatisfaction because you know you could do it, or do it better?
Ask yourself questions like these, and tune in to the situations where you may be sabotaging yourself.
2. Monitor Your Negative Thinking
Think about what you say to yourself when you engage in this behavior. Write down all your negative thoughts, however silly or unrealistic they may seem.
3. Challenge Your Self-Sabotaging Thinking
When you know what your negative self-talk is, or you find yourself behaving in some way that is preventing you from achieving what you need or want to do, ask yourself:
What deeper thoughts lie behind this self-sabotaging thinking?
Are these thoughts rational, and based on any clear facts?
Are past unsuccessful attempts unnecessarily preventing you from making a positive change?
4. Develop Self-Supporting Behaviors
Having identified and defeated the false rationale for your self-sabotaging behaviors, you are now free to start rebuilding your self-confidence. Ask yourself:
What can you say to myself that is positive or encouraging?
What options do you have? Is there more than one way to achieve your goal?
Can you build self-confidence by setting and achieving much smaller goals, on your way to achieving the big ones you’ve not achieved in the past?
Turn your assumptions around and put them in the correct perspective. Align them with positive beliefs about what you can accomplish. When your skills, beliefs and behaviors are aligned, then you have the right mental, emotional, and physical states to do whatever you set your mind to.
Then use your answers to come up with a message that inspires you to move in a positive direction, for example:
“Even though I doubt that I can complete this project on time, I know I have the resources and skills I need to get me through. When I start taking tackling the project, I know I will release a lot of the stress and anxiety I have been carrying around while I’ve been procrastinating.”
Turning your dreams into reality requires solid planning and lots of work and effort. To start the process, however, you need to believe in yourself and your ability to actually do it.
Self-sabotaging behavior cuts this belief off at the knees. Negative self-talk is an easy pattern to fall into and a difficult one to break out of. But by being aware of negative self-talk, you can ward off the effects of self-sabotage before it wears away your self-esteem. Start today, by tackling your sabotaging messages and behaviors, and put yourself on a path toward greater satisfaction and fulfillment.
* from an article on www.mindtools.com
Savvy employees know that they need to go beyond just working hard and hoping someone recognizes them for new opportunities or promotions. It is critical that individuals, young and old, learn to market themselves, which is one of most essential skills needed to be successful in today’s workplace.
Even students who seek internships and first jobs begin with the basics of marketing themselves and benefit from being in the right place at the right time with the right people.
A famous quote supports this: “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Marketing yourself creates “luck.”
What does “marketing yourself” really mean? What are the benefits of marketing yourself as a competent resource both inside and outside your organization? And what steps do you take to market yourself?
When marketing yourself, think of yourself as the “product” and what you can do as the “service.” It’s your responsibility to identify what expertise you can offer to your “customer.” For employees, your customer is your manager and company, and for those in job search, your customer is a potential hiring manager in another company. The challenge is that the workplace and its players keep changing, so the activities needed to build the relationships needed for marketing yourself must be consistent and ongoing.
Sometimes when people hear the words “marketing yourself,” they say it makes them feel queasy in the pit of their stomachs. Often, it is because they think of marketing as pushing yourself on other people, empty socializing, and superficial small talk. On the contrary, effective marketing creates a pull for your expertise. You establish yourself as an expert in your area and people recognize you for your talents.
Developing the skills for marketing oneself has become increasingly important as the complexity and change in the workplace has accelerated. Even for talented, competent people, it’s a buyer’s market. Individuals always benefit by making themselves more attractive candidates, whether inside or outside their organizations. Workers are more mobile, changing jobs, managers, employers, and geographic locations frequently, so they constantly have to educate others on their capabilities and experience. Jobs disappear due to advances in technology, outsourcing, or off-shoring options, so individuals are in the job market more often. On the other hand, people skilled at marketing themselves are first to hear news of emerging opportunities in their company or field, like working on virtual international teams or learning a new technology.
There is also a positive personal impact that results from marketing yourself. You can accomplish your personal and professional goals more easily and often faster. In addition, you can find opportunities to contribute your expertise more quickly and, in fact, have the opportunities find you. You will reap benefits of increased visibility, employability, and career resiliency. The process of marketing yourself creates options and choices for you as well, because you hear about them sooner.
The process of marketing yourself can be similar to the kind of marketing plan developed for a product or service. Here is an eight-step Personal Marketing Plan Template, based on a business marketing plan, to guide you:
1. Define your mission and the benefits you offer
Start with self knowledge: natural talents (aptitudes), interests, personality and values
Consider what role fits you best: generalist or specialist or a combination
Ask yourself, “What do I have to offer?”
2. Set your marketing objective: What exactly do you want to achieve?
Be specific, make it measurable, make it realistic, and build in a timeline with deadlines.
3. Design performance measures: What will be the observable, objective indicators that show that you are accomplishing or have accomplished your goal?
4. Gather analyze, and interpret information about your situation (“SWOT Analysis)
Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses: How do you stack up against your competition?
Identify external opportunities and threats: What trends may affect you and your career positively or negatively?
5. Identify your target markets: Who needs to know you, your capabilities, and professional goals?
This may mean that you focus your efforts on key managers, mentors or human resources staff solely within your organization, or that you broaden your outreach through membership in professional organizations, depending on your goal.
Also include the geographic scope of where you want to market yourself, for example locally, nationally, internationally? You decide what is appropriate for you.
6. Develop your marketing strategy and activities aimed at your target market
Volunteer for cross-functional teams and company-wide task forces
Share ideas and trend information with others and solicit advice from them
Take on leadership or committee roles in professional organizations
Attend conferences and continuing education events, even if you have to pay for them
Write articles for company or professional publications
Present to peers on topics related to your doing your jobs better
7. Define implementation strategies: What will you do, when, what resources will you need, and what might be obstacles to overcome?
8. Periodically evaluate marketing efforts and modify them if needed: What’s working? What do you need to do differently? Do you need to do more, or scale back your efforts?
After the first draft of your personal marketing plan is committed to writing, discuss it with at least three people you respect such as a mentor, colleague or spouse. Incorporate their feedback and suggestions, and then begin to implement your plan. As you make progress, evaluate your results and revise your plan accordingly.
Perhaps the late Johnny Carson, comedian and long-time host of “The Tonight Show,” sums up the benefits of marketing yourself:
“Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time – unless you are ready. The most important question is – are you ready?”
* from an article at www.careervision.org
A Few Basic Do’s and Don’ts of Personal Workplace Image
No matter how junior or senior you are, or how small or large your organisation is, there are some simple rules that should be followed if you want to present an appropriate image to your colleagues, management, clients, or customers.
Here are a few (allowing for male or female) that are regularly mentioned by the professional experts in this field:
· dress smartly for work or meeting clients or customers – if casual dress is allowed, then make it smart-casual
· be personally smart – fingernails clean, not chipped if varnished, clean shaven unless deliberately bearded, shoes polished, and so on
· keep your personal work area organised, neat and tidy – looking disorganised or overwhelmed with work will not impress anyone
· be supportive and encouraging to your colleagues
· praise others whenever appropriate
· acknowledge those who help you
· behave honestly and ethically – always
· welcome development opportunities enthusiastically
· work to the best of your ability until you move out or move up
· moan, whine, complain, protest
· be late for meetings – nobody will be impressed by your attempt to look too busy
· undermine your line manager or colleagues
· take all the credit when you had help from others
· have a silly email address – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are not suitable for professionals!
* compiled from articles on www.managementhelp.org
Study Resources of the Month
As this issue is focused on Marketing Yourself here are some recommendations related to that topic:
Purkiss, Royston-Lee – Brand You: Turn Your Unique Talents into a Winning Formula (Artesian, 2009) ISBN: 0955116422
Susan Morem – How to Gain the Professional Edge: Achieve the Personal and Professional Image You Want (Checkmark, 2005) ISBN: 9780816056750
Lesley Everett – Walking Tall: Key Steps to Total Image Impact (Lesley Everett, 2004) ISBN: 9780954893507
Mary Spillane – Branding Yourself: How to look, sound and behave your way to success (Sidgwick, 2000) ISBN: 0330481847
Student Recommended Resources
“…. www.strategicmanagement.net …. “very useful if you are a senior manager” our thanks to Asif
“… www.esami-africa.org … “well worth joining if in S or E Africa” our thanks to Sima
Quotes from the Gurus
Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If you want me to see you as a manager, them show me you can behave like a manager – Ms Cheung Yan
One’s eyes are what one is, one’s mouth what one becomes – John Galsworthy
Useful Study Links