What Do You Bring To The Table?
By Robin Fisher Roffer
To propel your career forward, it’s essential to recognize your talents and what truly sets you apart.
My talents are all about performing: singing, dancing, acting, and public speaking. I have a friend who’s a talented pianist and one who’s a wonderful painter. I know a woman who can walk into a room where everybody is cranky and at odds, and leave it with everybody smiling and hugs all around. I don’t know how she does it, but it’s her talent.
By the time we’re adults, most of us know a few things we do well. But we may be overlooking talents that have fallen by the wayside. Think back to when you were a kid. What did your parents or teachers praise you for? What were your favorite subjects in school? What extracurricular activities did you like best after school?
For many of us evolving our natural talents ended with childhood and so did the monitoring and feedback of parents and teachers. That’s why it’s extremely important to establish a kind of focus group consisting of your most trusted friends or family members. Think of them as your brand advisors. The companies I work with use focus groups all the time to find out how the public perceives their brands. Because these are your friends and they know you and where you’re coming from, you can expect relevant feedback. Ask them to tell you what each of them thinks is your foremost talent. Then write down what they tell you.
This is valuable information usually reveals something deeper than the skills you may already be aware of. THIS INFORMATION COULD BE MORE VALUABLE TO YOUR SUCCESS THAN AN MBA. Next ask your focus group to list work-related attributes that apply to you such as accountability, assertiveness, creativity, responsiveness, wisdom, decisiveness and initiative.
Business is a talent show – so don’t squander or hide your key attributes – focus on them!
In business, these attributes are as much an expression of talent as an ability to play the violin. They are distinguishing characteristics prized by employers, potential clients, the public in general, no matter what the field.
If you’re a “natural” in several areas you might not even be aware you are distinguished by these attributes. That’s where the focus group comes in. You might not consider yourself especially dedicated, but then come to find out that people think your dedication to a project is above and beyond anybody else’s. If you adjust easily to a change in circumstances, say a merger or a new boss, you’d be selling yourself short to think you’re not any more flexible than the next guy.
Using the list from your focus group to prompt you, adding those words that speak of your unique qualities—your values, your passions, your special skills—make a record of five key attributes that you want to accentuate for your target audience—whether that audience is your boss or your colleagues at work, or a prospective employer, or your own clients.
Once you’ve got your list of five key attributes, write a benefit driven statement for each attribute that will resonate with your target. For example, I could make the claim that I’m an effective communicator. To make that a real benefit, I would say to my clients, “What I bring to the table is effective communication. Not only do I write powerful messages, I can motivate everyone in your organization to consistently use those messages inside your company and out in the world.” I would then give an example or case study backing up my claim.
This is the process to determine your distinguishing value and the benefits of working with you. Once you have five attributes defined and powerful benefit statements polished, you will be unstoppable!