As the Chief Diversity Relations Officer for ATR, I attend many events in the diversity community, from small lunch-n-learns to larger conferences. I meet a lot of people, from corporate program managers to other MBEs. One topic often discussed, not surprisingly, is, how do I get noticed by corporate programs?
My simple answer is to differentiate yourself by showcasing your superpower and what makes you special. It is a solid business maxim that you need to differentiate yourself from the competition, and what makes you different and better is like having a superpower. Superpowers are, by definition, something that others don’t have. And they are used to help people and solve a problem.
But seriously, it can be just as much a superpower if your company can deliver a product that works better or more efficiently or suits the client’s need at the moment more than anyone else’s. For example, ATR specializes in finding certain kinds of highly educated, technically sophisticated consultants in a variety of disciplines and industries. Our superpower is finding the high-quality technical skills and business savvy individuals that clients need for their specific projects or work.
So, when you think about how to differentiate your company, think about your superpower. What are you able to do that others can’t? Are you faster, or more reliable, or innovative, or do you fit a special niche? Who are these superpowers important to? Some people will pay a lot for a fine dining experience while others value the speed and convenience of fast food. Which companies need your product or service the most? Who will it help the most? These are the best potential clients who will likely be willing to pay the best price.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. X-ray vision isn’t going to help when someone needs someone who can fly and catch the baby falling from the building. Think carefully about who you can really help and how. For example, Fortune 1000 companies have different needs than midsize or smaller companies. It’s important to recognize whether you’re able to provide your services on the scale they need. It may be prudent not to rush into situations that seem to promise big rewards but may not let your strengths shine.
You should also think about your personal superpower and how you can use it to help others. What is your strength? It might be that you have expertise in a certain area, some specialized knowledge. Can you share your experience and knowledge with others in your industry? With your potential clients? Can you be a speaker or writer on a topic of importance? Can you facilitate introductions or recommend companies when your services don’t match a client’s needs? There are many ways that you can help people in business that are not directly sales, but which will raise your company’s profile and potentially lead to new business.
Finally, think about those you work with and how you should encourage and help them develop their powers. How are you helping your employees learn and improve, as Yoda did for Luke Skywalker? Foster a culture of curiosity and learning. Support CPE and other training and educational opportunities for yourself and your workforce. Developing new superpowers is never a bad thing!
Like so many of us these days, I’m sure your business has been affected somehow with the current pandemic. Your business may be moving forward uninterrupted or potentially even growing as a result and I am thrilled if this is the case. But it’s just as likely your business has been interrupted, slowed, or even stopped. Take the time now to think about your superpower and you will be better prepared for the return to business that will happen when things are more under control.
Thinking about what you do best, what your superpower is, can help you figure out how to differentiate your company from a sea of competitors. Matching your superpower to the companies and situations that it is best suited to work in is how you will use what differentiates you to grow your business.
Want to discuss growth strategies or other tips for MBEs further? Feel free to reach out to us to continue the conversation.