Admit it: as much as you value social media, professionally and personally, every so often you get a twinge of angst while sifting through your peers’ posts—the latest client conquest, dinner with an industry celeb, a headline-making accolade… You know what I’m talking about: The posts that you publicly “like,” but privately loathe, and that send you spiraling into a heightened state of insecurity, muttering things like, “I’ll never have a high-profile client,” “What am I doing wrong?” Or, “I’ve got to find out what they’re doing.”
This, followed by a mad dash to that company’s website to read its perfectly written web copy and blog, enviable list of clients, “cool” events, “incredible” press coverage, and further convince yourself that you’re doomed to failure.
If that’s never been you, kudos: you either have an established business with a solid list of clients and tactics, or you don’t have a Facebook account. Or, maybe you’re just wise, and confident, enough to understand that looking over your shoulder at what your competition (friendly or otherwise) is doing, is a detrimental distraction to reaching your goals (and creating your own headlines).
Being aware of trends and client/customer movement within your industry is certainly essential to staying on top of your game. However, when you start changing YOUR game to mimic that of your competition, you’re losing sight of the most valuable commodity that you have. That, being you.
While this may sound simplistic, it has merit. And, it’s why providing superior customer service ranks high on everyone’s list of daily goals. What you’re offering is more than a product or a service; you’re offering relational capital. This is a phrase I learned at a networking event a couple of years ago and it stuck.
The term reflects more than customer service; it really is about capturing your intrinsic value (skills, experience, passion, compassion, creativity, etc.) and conveying that to your target clientele, as well as to those influential people who can connect you to them. When you start comparing yourself to others, it’s easy to lose sight of this, and more importantly, of your ideal client or customer. When you’re worrying about the competition, you’re not spending the necessary time improving your own customer relations and growth tactics.
So to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy, get off the Internet and pull out a pen and a pad of paper. Make a list of all the things you know you’re doing right, you think you’re doing right, and that you’re pretty sure you’re not doing as well as you could be. Then, outline all the traits that clearly define who you are, and that express what you offer, what types of problems you solve and why someone should choose you.
Share it with a professional peer that you trust and respect, and who follows your business online or has attended events with you and seen how you “operate.” If you can handle a little constructive criticism, this exercise will be invaluable to your professional and personal growth.
Once you’ve attained clarity on your worth, the green will fade from your skin, and you’ll be in the perfect position to start plotting the resurrection of your ego—and your company.