Friday, August 7, 2009

Not Everybody has to Like You

We all want to be liked; it’s human nature. And we often carry that need into our businesses. We’re not likely to turn down a paying opportunity, particularly in today’s economic environment. But there are many we shouldn’t be wasting our time on.

In recessionary times our firms’ mantras tend to shift from niche, niche, niche to diversify, diversify, diversify. Diversification is important. The firms that focused all past efforts on developer projects are likely not doing that well today. Those that focused solely on municipal work are probably doing OK today, but what about tomorrow. The point is, diversification is an important strategy, provided the execution is smart. It’s when firms take the position of trying to be everything to everybody, just to get work in the door, where things start to fall apart.

I’m sure you’ve noticed your competition on any number of job opportunities has increased. But if you take a close look at the competition you can break it down into three categories:

  1. The usual suspects; all qualified to win the job.
  2. The bottom feeders, you know, the guys that are sort of qualified, but appear even more qualified when they start low-balling the bid.
  3. And then there are the firms that are diversifying.

Number three isn’t too much of a worry for you. Yes, you may be among 40 respondents instead of 10, but those that are qualified will rise to the top. Those diversifying for the sake of diversifying aren’t going to get much consideration (unless they hold brand creed and the prospect is swayed by that over credentials which is another post altogether).

The firms that are scared and turning that nervousness into a diversification strategy that’s more akin to ready, fire, aim are setting themselves up for failure. Instead they should reflect on their strengths, put thought into where true areas for growth are and pull together a strategy to enter those markets in addition to their existing ones. Better yet, develop and execute your diversification strategy before you need one. But when crafting it, remember, not everyone has to like you. It’s only important to be liked by the ones offering the projects that are a fit for your firms’ strengths.

Originally written for Help Everybody Everyday

Image Credit: wanderinghome on flickr

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