I am rather a political junkie and pride myself on keeping up with important local, national and sometimes international elections. On Tuesday November 6, those of us in the US will cast our votes for President in the culmination of a contentious and mind-bogglingly expensive race for the White House. There are also a few important Senate races to resolve as well.
Dorie Clark (no relation), corporate strategy consultant and adviser to the gubernatorial campaign of MA Governor Deval Patrick and the presidential campaign of Howard Dean, says that business owners and executives should pluck a few lessons from electoral politics to better position themselves for business and career success.
Clark urges those of us in leadership positions (and every Freelancer is a leader) to observe and follow the behavior of the best politicians, from Lyndon Johnson to Ronald Reagan: set clear and reasonable goals; identify and cultivate supporters; build and exercise influence; and execute relentlessly to achieve your ambitions. You may not be running for public office, but it’s a smart idea nonetheless to manage your career as if you were campaigning for president.
First, choose a professional goal. If you find it advisable to alter your goal down the road, that’s OK; you just need to propel yourself forward and start your campaign. Those in business most likely want to earn more money and that may mean acquiring more clients who dole out lucrative contracts. So maybe your prime objective will be to sign three Fortune 100 clients, to support the goal of accessing higher paying and more prestigious projects that enhance your brand and your bottom line.
However, you may eventually decide that your organization is not ready to pursue Fortune 100 clients. Instead, you shift your sights to Fortune 1000 clients, because that is more realistic for you. The point is, you’ll position yourself to sign clients who can offer bigger budget projects and maintain your goal of enhancing both your reputation and your revenues.
Next, set important milestones for your campaign. A presidential candidate is advised to win the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary because performance there impacts future campaign success. Candidates who succeed in those races vastly improve their chance of reaching the White House. What interim projects can you pursue and win, projects that when on your CV will persuade bigger clients to trust your expertise and feel comfortable enough to hire you?
While you work on getting yourself into some stepping stone projects, take a look at your skill set, your personal and professional network and your marketing materials. Identify and resolve any gaps and need for upgrades. Observe those who have arrived at the place you want to be and check out their skills, education level, marketing materials, relationships, professional organizations, etc. Fill in as many missing elements as possible.
Make an action plan and hold yourself accountable by attaching dates. Maybe you should become a better public speaker or obtain a certain professional credential? Maybe there are books, blogs or magazines you should read to stay current in your business (or that of your target clients)? Find out when and where the course will be offered and its cost. Enter registration dates into your calendar. Budget the money. Visit the library or book store.
Next week, we’ll take a look at what may be the most important component of your presidential campaign.
Thanks for reading,