On Working Virtually – Differentiate Yourself
We can work from anywhere. And do. We’re gearing up for our annual camping extravaganza, so working virtually gets very tricky. We wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Confession. We’ve both had jobs (more than one) that we’ve 1) had no passion for and 2) had no real talent or natural strengths for. We’re smart guys, though, so – like many, many people – we whipped out our “grin-and-bear-it” abilities and performed well despite the duties, if only to go home at night dreading the next day.
Friday evening’s were heaven; Sunday evenings were hell. It felt crappy.
That’s all changed now that we’ve leaned into a mega-dose of uncertainty in order to pursue our version of a NVR life. For us, it’s all about making tracks, making a difference and making a living. As we addressed in a post about pursuing work that employs your strengths, the “making a living” part of the equation initially proved quite challenging. We knew we wanted fulfilling work, and we knew we wanted to do it on our terms.
People regularly ask us about finding that sweet spot – where work (or the way you make money) feels in sync with the rest of your life. So, we continually tell people that it starts with finding work that utilizes your natural talents. Ideally, it will also involve something that you have a passion for. We’re big fans of passion – heck, even fanaticism. It’s amazing how, without it, many people go through life jumping from one uninspiring job/activity to another.
OK, so we’ve made the case for strengths and passion. What’s next?
Because we’re location independent and do HR consulting, we have to not only do great work but also make ourselves the most compelling choice for potential clients. After we’ve had the strengths and passion discussions with working virtually wannabes, the next question is usually: “How do you get business?” You have to differentiate yourself.
After getting a handle on your strengths and passion, determine where you are a star – where what you offer is different – better – than the competition. Yes, it’s a rough economy – you’ll only be mind-blowingly good at what you do if you have the authentic strengths and passion for it. More than that, though, you have to know what sets you apart from others with the same strengths/passion.
Tough? Yes. But you can do it.
From our perspective, it starts with valuing quality work – work that is worth quality compensation. Be a part of the crowd that’s raising the bar and not looking to make a quick buck. We’re inspired by people who recognize the importance of doing some heavy lifting – pursuing education and experiences that set them apart. We work hard for every client and every project. We chase excellence and differentiation and refuse to take an approach that dilutes our offerings or our profession.
We meet a lot of people who get stuck in frustration looking at all of the people with no talent who are making money. In our corner of the virtual work world, we have a lot of solid competition. We also have a lot of skill-free competition. Many of these people make money by offering to do work for very little (or nothing!). Last week, this e-mail, from a start-up, was in the in-box…
I was referred to you by XXX. I’d like to get a quote on a project. We don’t have much money, but I wanted to give you a chance before sending it overseas for a bid.
You’d be surprised how often things like this come up. The real message being: Please provide a quote that is embarrassingly cheap or I’ll find someone who will. This is because a lot of people will call themselves a lot of things in order to make money. They will get clients. Of course, there are flashes of talent in that pool, but we can tell you – after several years of doing this – that pool sees competition come and go very quickly. Very few endure.
So, no, we don’t play that game and we don’t get mad that these (mostly) unqualified low-ballers exist. We’ve worked in competitive consulting field long enough to say “that ship has sailed.” You can’t fight what people are going to call themselves – design guru, writing expert, technical wizard. We tend to agree with those who believe that we can all call ourselves whatever we want and If someone wants to “buy it,” who are we to get in the way. There’s plenty of room for everyone and, in the end, quality of work will determine ultimate trajectory.
The truth is that the perfect equation is out there for you. Don’t chase money, or your mother’s dream. Whether you want to work virtually or not, do the heavy lifting and commit to work towards a career that employs your natural strengths, radiates your passion and differentiates you. If not, you’ll likely feel out of sync and unfulfilled.
Become an expert in exactly what you’re supposed to be an expert in and don’t engage in the white noise. If you can do that, you’ll likely be able to secure an income however you’d like. Even virtually.
What’s your situation? Are things humming in your world of work, or do you need to make a change?