There has been a lot of emphasis on developing your “personal” pitch. If you have looked, or even considered looking, for a new job in the last 5 years, you no doubt were encouraged by some networking group to have a pitch. Okay, so you developed a pitch. Yay. I think.
What about taking the next step? Did you? Did you take the step where you didn’t focus on what you are and what you seek (aka “I am a professional product manager who is seeking an opportunity in a growth-oriented technology firm…), but rather on your value? The value you bring as a product professional is more critical, descriptive and important than any pitch. It is your personal distinctive competence.
Distinctive competence, for a business, “is defined as a set of unique capabilities that certain firms possess allowing them to make inroads into desired markets and to gain advantage over the competition; generally, it is an activity that a firm performs better than its competition.” For you as a professional, change this to read “a unique quality or skill that adds a specific value to the team and differentiates you from the other team members.”
Developing a personal distinctive competency statement will help you in your daily product work (whether it is product management or product marketing) since it will help you clearly see where you should engage as a leader, and where you should step back in a supporting role so you can learn and grow.
To develop your DC, think about what your job description is, in theory. Then think about what it is in reality. Actually write the second part down. Look at the list and give yourself an honest grade on how well you accomplished these items in the past 12-18 months. Be honest. You aren’t sharing this with anyone. If you did average on writing your business case, give yourself a C. (I have, it may not be pretty but it is a necessity.) Once you have the grading done on the list, find all the A’s. Then go back and grade this list only on a scale of 1-10. Pretty soon you will see the A1 item. Once you have this, shop it around to a few trusted people who you think understand your work. Ask them if they believe as you do, that you add incredible value as an expert in “x”. It’s validation. If they don’t agree, ask them what they think is the strongest area where you do add value.
With a little work and validation your distinctive competence will really start to “shake itself out” of the pack of your skills. By no means am I implying that you’re not good in other areas. I am merely suggesting that one area will rise to the top. When you know what that area is, your value will skyrocket.
Looking in from the outside, the pitch you use to promote yourself is important and necessary; but, the distinctive competence statement you create will help you prove leadership and value. That is how you grow in the product management/marketing world. This is how you stand out from the crowd.
(If you have done one, or go through the exercise to develop a DC, please share it below in the comments. Remember, while our companies may compete for customers, we are one community .)