Remember Bo Jackson? He was one of few professional athletes to play and excel at two different sports – baseball and football.
What does Jackson have to do with your career? It’s simple, really: His example teaches us what it means to be in demand. Jackson so proved and maintained his excellence that teams in both the MLB and the NFL wanted him on their rosters.
Staying in demand is the key to a successful career. If you want to stay in demand, you need to take a page from Jackson. Your strongest skills must be evident in all that you do. You must exploit their value, showcase them to the world, and create demand for yourself.
Here are some steps to take in order to create – and sustain – demand for the value you produce as a professional:
1. Stay Focused on the Value of Your Work
Most of us need to be reminded occasionally of what our work means and how it impacts others. Find out how your work improves other people’s lives, and keep this in your sights at all times.
2. Keep Proof of Your Best Work Close By
You will have to show others your best work – not to brag, but to illustrate your value. Share proof of your best, most recent work on your social channels. Use the channels where your work is mostly likely to reach its intended audience.
3. Know Who Appreciates Your Work and Why
You may have to do a little schmoozing in order to better understand whom your work reaches and whom it serves, but that’s okay. Over-delivering is more than just an extra scoop of ice cream – it’s a way to build intimate pathways between your work and the people it affects, not to mention the additional brand loyalty it yields.
4. Reward Constructive Feedback
Constructive feedback can be tough to swallow, but it’s necessary. Most importantly, pay attention to the source of the criticism. Can you accept constructive feedback from someone who may not care about the outcome? If you can, and you can respond positively to that feedback, you can stay ahead of your competition. Thank people for their critiques. Doing so will build goodwill and show others you are serious about what you do.
5. Engage in Meaningful Conversations
Good networking isn’t about getting things from people. Good networking is an exchange of value. When you make connections, look for ways to build trust – not just for now, but for the long term. Also give as much as you’re getting – if not more.
6. Anticipate Your Professional Peaks and Valleys
All careers have periods of thriving and periods of decline. Layoffs and terminations happen to even the best of us people. Stay connected to the meaning of your work. Respond quickly and appropriately to both good and bad news.
7. Become Your Own Master Publicist
Your future employers and business partners want to know you. The more people rave about you, the easier it is to build trust. When you have people bragging about the value you deliver, new opportunities will come to you.
Why not lend your voice to a podcast, magazine, or television interview? Get your message out there, and get other people spreading it for you.
8. Share Your Stories
Your message, voice, and delivery matter to the people in your network. People want to know how you got to where you are. Part of why people invest emotionally or financially in anything is because they understand the journey and want to be part of it. Get your message out there through relevant, engaging stories. People will listen.
9. Connect With Experts
Whom you meet matters. It is essential to forge relationships with hiring managers and executives. They may not hire you, but they can certainly help you on your journey in some way or another. Employers who offer insights into their hiring practices on LinkedIn and other platforms are valuable. If you’re bold and tactical, you can engage them.
10. Give Without Expecting to Get
Word spreads when you give more than you take. People care more about your generosity than your skills. If you prove you are personally driven to create value for others, people will be impressed – and they’ll want you on their side.
People won’t demand you if they don’t know or trust you. You must create demand. It won’t show up at your door. Put your work out there. Connect with employers, referrers, and other people in your industry. Make yourself available to others – the people who want you in their network, the employers who could use your skills, and the people who need your help.
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.