I remember reading about symbiotic relationships in junior high. On the BioTech FYI Center, symbiotic is defined as “the close association of two different kinds of living organisms where there is benefit to both or where both receive an advantage from the association.”
But, I think you can apply the theory to your career in a much better (and less weird) way.
Here’s an example:
I’m in a “symbiotic” relationship with Heather Huhman. After spending a few months working for her company, Come Recommended, I accepted an internship at a marketing communications firm (which is where my passion is).
But, Heather and I have stayed good friends and often chat online. Since I also am a freelance writer, she gives me great ideas to pitch to editors. She has written several great e-books lately, which relate to several of the stories I have pitched to magazines.
Heather is always willing to share knowledge, whether it’s resume advice for myself or comments for a story I am working on. Her great quotes always help make my soon-to-be published stories even better.
In turn, her generosity of ideas and knowledge can result in good publicity for her company.
What about you? What kind of symbiotic relationships do you have? How have you made them work?
Guest post by Jenny Russell
I once had a boss, Jack, who was a risk-taker, gutsy and the ultimate salesperson. He got a lot of speeding tickets and scared a lot of strangers, but these characteristics translated well into running his business.
The small advertising agency that Jack ran was in a small town and wasn’t extraordinary. One day, Jack decided that he was going to contact a very successful Fortune 500 company. He called around until he found someone within the organization who would take his call and give him a chance.
Jack’s own small town business went from non-existent to competing with advertising agencies in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
The lesson: It pays to be gutsy. However, what makes the difference between a bold business which fails versus a fearless business which succeeds?
Here are some keys:
- Be good at what you do - You can be fearless in selling your product or service, but if you do not have the quality to back it up, the project will quickly backfire on you. Also, surround yourself with smart, skilled co-workers that make you look good.
- Obtain as many skills and as much knowledge as possible - This goes along the lines of the debate of being liberally educated and having multiple jobs. Develop a broad knowledge base of many different topics and learn from every experience that you can find. For instance, one of the hardest jobs that I have ever had was working as a waitress. If you can provide stellar customer service to restaurant patrons, you can provide great customer service to anyone.
- Take care of your clients – Give top-notch customer service and do whatever it takes to keep your current clients happy. As the old saying goes, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will. It also takes a lot more time and money to go out and pursue new customers than it does to keep the clients that you currently have.
- Develop relationships – Talk to strangers. Remember names and faces. Take a genuine interest in people that you meet through college, different jobs, and conferences. Find common interests, learn their spouse’s name, and remember how many kids they have. Keep their business card or link to their on-line contact information through LinkedIn. You never know when a business opportunity will arise where you might need them or they might need you. Treat everyone with the genuine value and respect that they deserve.
- Be a problem solver– Ask your clients and potential clients what their challenges and problems are. Develop solutions to these problems and your services become more and more valuable to them.
- Keep up with trends and be an innovator – Depending on the industry you are in, trends may change quickly or slowly, but there will always be news to keep up with. Be on top of the trends in your industry and be an innovator as the first one to come up with solutions based upon these trends. Again, this increases your businesses value to your clients.
Jenny Russell is the owner of JenRus Freelance, an Internet Marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization, social media marketing, and freelance writing. After graduating from Bethany College in 2002, Jenny built eight years of marketing experience through positions in healthcare marketing, community development, and traditional advertising.
Win a copy of Young Professional’s Guide to Success. Comment on, tweet about or blog about blog posts posted from Dec. 15 to Dec. 21 to gain points to win. Read the contest rules here. I have three copies to give away!
Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” I’d like to add this is especially true of meetings.
Today, I helped pitch a magazine design to a company. The meeting started an hour late due to many problems. Ironically, we all knew better that to trust technology.
First, the laptop had trouble connecting to the big screen. Neither the wired or wireless internet would work and our presentation was stored online. A group member went to her car and brought in her external hard drive. Since she has a Mac, it didn’t work with the PC laptop. Back to square one, another member tried to save the presentation on another computer to her flash drive. The presentation was too big. At this point, we moved to another meeting room, where the Internet works, and saved the presentation on another laptop. But, the computer did not open Microsoft 2007 Finally, we’re able to present and it went great.
This presentation was a great lesson for young professionals. For my next big presentation, here’s how I plan to prepare for these technological issues:
- Arrive earlier to set up. If needed, tell the client you would like to arrive a little earlier to set up the projector and computer, if needed.
- Have the presentation in a variety of forms. Mac and PC files don’t always play well together. Also, consider the fact that some people cannot open Microsoft 2007 and Internet access is not always guaranteed.
- Prepare plan B….and C and D. If your flash drive doesn’t work, what will you do? If you e-mail yourself the presentation, how will you get it if your mail server is down? If the electricity goes out, how will you continue your pitch? Preparation is key and for my next presentation, I’d like to save my files on my flash drive, e-mail and a CD. As a last resort, paper copies of the slides also would do.
What do you suggest a young professional do before a big presentation?
For more tips on being a successful young professional, check out this interview by the author of the book “Young Professional’s Guide to Success.”