In the business world, establishing a competitive edge is essential for a company’s success. Having a clear advantage over the competition in terms of one or more elements of the marketing mix that is valued by potential client. It’s vital to stand out among competitors so that clients will take notice.
It’s the exact same with you in the workplace. How can you set yourself apart from all of the other people who can do the same job? You need to figure out what makes you different from the crowd.
You must identify and leverage your unique strengths to gain attention from your coworkers and superiors. If you understand what value you bring to the table, your confidence will grow and the possibility of advancement at work will too!
But where do you start? What can you do to find your competitive edge at work?
1) Know yourself and know your strengths
It’s time to take a good hard look at yourself and ask some hard questions. Self-examination can be surprisingly difficult. You need to know where you excel and what you can do that your co-workers cannot. Think about your strongest areas and how you can best utilize them at your job. Start to think of yourself as the “go to” person for that special quality you have. Others will start to think of you the same way and will come to you to leverage your abilities.
Though it’s not fun, it’s also important to focus on your shortcomings. If you want to sharpen your competitive edge, you’ll need to be aware of both strengths and weaknesses. Think about your weakest areas and figure out ways to improve on them. Knowing yourself will make you a better, and a much more valuable, employee.
2) Learn about your company
They say that knowledge is power so you should learn as much as you can. How much do you really know about your company? Obviously you know about your immediate workplace, your employees, and your boss. But what about the senior managers above your boss? Is your company excelling in the marketplace or is it currently struggling? Don’t just stop at your own company, what about the other competitors in the industry? The more you know about your business, the better. Being well informed can help you focus on the key issues and problems that your company is facing. Having impact in these areas will directly impact how you are perceived by the leaders in your company.
3) Have a plan
So, you want to sharpen your competitive edge. Ok! But why? What do you want out of your job? Everyone wants to move up, make more money, and have more responsibilities, but how do you get there? If you know where you are heading, you can get there faster! Setting concrete and achievable goals for yourself means that you will constantly be moving forward. People notice that kind of drive!
4) Invest in yourself by developing skills
Build up that resume. Even if you aren’t currently looking for a new job, developing new skills that you can put to work right now can attract attention from your boss and result in new responsibilities.
It could be as simple as taking a course to improve your project management skills. Keep your managers informed about what you are doing to make yourself a better employee; if they know what you can do they can better use you at work.
Developing your skills can give you an opportunity to ask your boss for more responsibilities. Doing so can be nerve wracking, but you will gain confidence just by doing it. Seeking out situations that make you slightly uncomfortable forces you to grow as a person.
5) Network at work!
Of course you need to develop your networking skills with clients and always expand your business contacts. But ask yourself, how well do you really know the people that you work with? Have you ever done anything social with them outside of work? Being friendly and having comfortable relationships with your fellow employees can greatly improve your office morale. You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you should make the attempt to get along well with all of your co-workers. Having a good relationship can make office interactions run more smoothly and can improve your teamwork with others.
6) Seek opportunities to show leadership skills
Being an effective leader requires confidence, people skills, ambition, and knowledge. In other words, it requires everything that we’ve already outlined in points 1-5. Having a competitive edge means that you want to have more responsibilities and maybe even be in charge. Start to look for any opportunity that you can to develop and show your leadership skills.
If a project comes along that’s perfect for your abilities, offer to spearhead it. If you have an idea for a new project, share it with your boss. Who knows, you might just end up as a boss yourself!
7) Manage your stress level
Having a competitive edge means that you are constantly pushing yourself to be better and this can greatly increase your stress level. Stress management is an essential life skill. Make sure you pay attention to your life outside of work. Spend time with your friends and loved ones. Eat right and don’t forget to exercise—it can be a fantastic stress reliever! Find an activity that you enjoy doing and schedule some time for it every week. It could be running, yoga, anything that gets you up and moving. No matter how well you do in standing out, you will not get the results you want, if you are burning out in the process.
8) Always look for opportunities outside of work
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go looking for another job. It just means that you should be open to what’s happening around you. People with a competitive edge are always moving; they always want to get to the next level. Sometimes opportunities can present themselves and you need to be ready to grab them.
9) It’s not just about you
Having a competitive edge doesn’t just mean that you’re competing to be noticed at work. You should not only want to be the best, you should also want your company to be the best. Being passionate about your job and believing in your company can greatly improve your work. And that kind of passion gets noticed! Invest yourself in your work and do your absolute best to help the company succeed.
Uncover your competitive edge. You’ll stand out, attract positive attention, and benefit from more career opportunities.
Images © We The People