Firstly, why is a personal plan important? There are several reasons, but a key one is that it makes your career less open to random chance and makes you more focused on doing the kind of work that makes you fulfilled.
Strategy first, plan second
You need to be aware that a plan should follow some strategic thinking. Otherwise your plan will probably be unsustainable. It will just be a wish list.
A quick tip on strategy. It’s a matching process. Start by assessing your marketable assets:
- What knowledge and experience do you have?
- What are your skills?
- Who is in your network and thinks well of you (inside your firm and outside)?
Now consider the market you are in. What areas of work are big? What areas are likely to grow? What types of work are more profitable than others? You don’t need to quantify anything. Just rank the areas as High, Medium or Low in attractiveness.
Then match your marketable assets to the more attractive sectors or areas of specialism. As you do this, ask yourself whether you feel passionate about doing this kind of work? This passion bit is important! It will have you through the tougher times.
Choose two or three areas to focus on and then write your plan.
Headings for a personal marketing plan
Many firms have long complicated documents that make planning a tedious and potentially bureaucratic process. I recommend having just four headings and you can get your plan on a single page. The headings are:
- Objectives – ‘Smart’ objectives are important (ie specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) so you can measure your progress
- Profile-raising activities – to make yourself the ‘go-to’ person internally and a bit famous externally
- Key clients and target clients – make sure you don’t put too many on your list, so you’ll have enough time to invest in building these key relationships
- Product innovations – to ensure you have something with more added value than your rivals to offer your clients and can legitimately charge a premium (eg risk-sharing pricing options, project management processes, checklists etc)
Many professionals (consultants, lawyers, accountants etc) work in what seem like hierarchical organisations. Too many staff members believe that their role to do the work handed down by a more senior professional. I urge all professionals to be tactfully assertive on matters to do with your careers. Too many talented juniors are leaving because they are not fulfilled. The problem is that the grass is rarely greener somewhere else.
So it’s actually in the interests of professional firms to encourage staff to produce personal plans. It’ll be a win-win!
If you’d like to receive the proformas that relate to this process of producing a strategy and personal plan, just ping me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I send them to you.