I was talking a friend about their employer, Great Software Company (GSC) [names have been changed -ed]. GSC had a reputation for being a powerhouse in the software development field. They hired the best and set them at client problems with flair and gusto. My friend was lamenting they’ve lost their mojo, now they are “just one [company] in a crowd.” GSC is waiting for clients to recognize how great they are. Clients are looking for someone new to solve the problem of the day. And existing clients are often going someplace new rather than turning to their (formerly?) trusted parter, GSC.
Reputations are great tools for a company. A strong reputation, based on effective delivery of innovative solutions is great for a company. It’s also great when you own the problem and you are looking for solution provider. You can check your networks for a company that has the chops you need.
Unfortunately, reputations for most firms in software and high-tech are short lived. The fields are changing at such a rapid pace, very few reputations become “household names.” Whether large, mid-tier, or a boutique firm, it is a rarity to establish a reputations both wide- and deep-enough to impact the client if you are not currently solving the biggest problem they face.
I propose two causes for this. First, the rate of change. You may have been great in programming 4GL languages a decade ago, but who cares today? Website design has moved dramatically in the last three years. Are you ready to move to NoSQL databases? Is your team running with Continuous Integration? Have you heard about the teams looking for post-Agile coaching yet? If you do not have the latest skills, or at least paying attention to the related trends, your clients have every reason to look for another firm for solutions.
My second proposed cause is the ever-shifting audience. Not only is the technology changing quickly, but the people in and around technology are fast moving as well. Heck, it’s not just the people in technology, but the people you talk to every day. You cannot count on your client remembering how you solved their Tough Problem when they have had leadership changes, multiple staff shifts and promotions, or a department reorganization. As a company, you have to find a way to display your talent, your skills, your ability to solve the tough problems.
Now, reread the section above and imagine I am talking about you and your role, not GSC and software firms.
Are you “just one in a crowd?” Have you done anything to build a reputation for thorough analysis with the new people on your team? Does the new person in the Operations Department <insert department/customer/client you serve> think you exceed expectations? Are you wishing people would just “trust you” because you haven proven yourself before? If you find yourself wondering why you don’t have the respect you used to, then it’s time to look at what you can do to reassert yourself.
Business Analysts regularly get assigned to new problems and new teams. It’s easy to remember the basics of building a reputation when all or most of the faces around you are new. The situation is very different for long-running teams / projects. It is easy to forget the basics when only one name changes at a time, but it is no less important.
Take the time to make a good impression for everyone added and re-added to your project. Introduce yourself to newcomers, whether they are teammates or executives. Find the chance or make a window of opportunity to prove your skills and capabilities. Show you know how to deliver as a daily habit.
If you’ve built a solid reputation, then kudos! It’s the first step to a great career and interesting opportunities. But keep investing in it. Don’t stop and rest on what you’ve done because building a reputation is only part of the goal. Now go forth and show you are worthy of your laurels!
Take away: Determine how to get the attention of the right people instead of waiting for people to notice you.
Thanks to Global Citizen for the picture above.