Thursday, January 18, 2007

Make a living or make a FORTUNE?

A leader once said that "a single idea of genius is more profitable and powerful than a lifetime of meticulous office work."

Jim Rohn, the best-selling author and motivational speaker, put it this way: "Success is something you attract by the person you become. Work hard on your job and you will make a living. Work hard on yourself and you will make a FORTUNE."

This is why I encourage people to use Linkedin proactively and strategically, as if their lives depended on it. Indeed, Linkedin can be an instrument of economic and financial liberation, IF (and this is a big IF) you know HOW to use it strategically.

For example, you can learn AMAZING things and acquire high-value knowledge by reading the answers of top executives and respected authors/consultants in the Answers section of Linkedin.

Of course, you can also answer questions, but it's better to proceed cautiously. Many answers I have read are incomplete, disorganized, or empty of real knowledge. The risk is that it could damage your reputation in the Linkedin community.

So how does Linkedin enable you to heed Rohn's advice of "working hard on yourself"?

Well, for one thing, Linkedin forces you to write a CLEAR description of what your career is all about. A great many people do not write a clear (let alone compelling or memorable) description of who they are in the profile section.

Self-knowledge is critical to effective networking. If you don't know who you are (I mean "professionally," not "existentially"), then you cannot be confident when you network. As a result, others who meet you also CANNOT be confident about you.

Here's something useful to remember, which I tell all my (career and business) coaching clients:

"Clarity does not need charity."

In other words, if you are CLEAR about your unique value proposition (the added value or the strategic solution you provide to employers or clients), then you do not need to sell so much. You don't even need to go out of your way to network with people. Word of mouth will work for you.


Because you are so unique, memorable and valuable.

However, lack of clarity means you will have to rely on people's goodwill (charity). Charity from others is great if you're homeless or are recovering from a major disaster in your life, but it is NOT a good career foundation, alas!

The good news is that "working hard on yourself" doesn't necessarily mean you have to make a lot of strained effort to acquire new skills or get into evening classes. No, all you have to do is answer the key question that Peter Drucker asks of people who come to him for career advice: "What do you want to contribute?"

The late masterful business intellectual did it again: he phrased, in extremely simple terms, a key problem that if solved would dramatically change a person's career or business!

He also wrote: "Don't think in terms of achievement, think in terms of contribution."

Many Linkedin users write their profile in terms of their achievements, but this is too self-oriented. Writing in terms of what you want to contribute to future clients and employers is much more appealing, and shows that you have a service mentality.

Yes, it's important to mention one's success track record, but it is best to formulate it in terms of how you were able to contribute to the company's success or to the success of your team.