As many of you know, I’m a recently certified CCIE. As many of these things happen, it has take a while for my current employer to talk to me about what this means to them and to me moving forward. I’ve heard many stories about CCIEs that have attained their lab only to find themselves out of a job quickly because their employer either doesn’t see the advantage of having a Cisco Expert on staff, or they feel that having a CCIE around will cost too much in the long run and they decide to part ways before the expenses grow too great. In my case, I’m graced with an employer that wants to keep me around for the foreseeable future. However, I’m now tasked with a different challenge.
After some conversations, I’ve been asked to come up with a way to sell myself. No, not like that. Or that. Okay, maybe like that. I’m supposed to find a way to put my skill set front and center and bring in new customers based on things that I can provide that no one else can. This is a somewhat interesting proposition for me. Despite what I might say or do around my Twitter friends, I’m usually a shy and reserved person. I have a hard time being anything other than modest, and I don’t take compliments very well. Now, I have to turn that on its head and find a way to put myself out there for all the world to see.
When I’m in a group of people, such as at Cisco Live, it’s easy for me to put on a fun act. Tattoos nonwithstanding, I get to be funny and entertaining for my friends. I feel comfortable calling attention to myself and generally being goofy. However, in front of people that don’t know me very well, I find myself much more reserved. The hardest job interview I’ve ever had involved the interviewer telling me, “Son, I don’t know anything about you. If you don’t tell me more about yourself, you aren’t going to do very well.” I tend to hang back and speak only when spoken to. I don’t interrupt conversation, even when I see someone is wrong and needs to be corrected. Many times, it’s easy for me to take this role as the silent partner because the people I’m meeting with do the majority of the discussing.
Now, however, I think I’m going to have to be more forward. That doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve tried my hand at sales-type activities before and found they weren’t for me. I’m good at presenting information and answering questions. I suck at closing people. I don’t have the patience or desire to endlessly ask someone to buy something. I tend to take the approach that I’ve presented you with all the information that you need to make up your mind. It’s up to you to buy this widget or not. I think I’m going to need to start finding ways to “close the deal”, even if only from the aspect that I have to convince the people I’m “selling” to that I’m capable of doing the job they want me to do.
This is just a little peak into what happens after you spend years of your life chasing something that identifies you as one of the best in your field. It tends to change your standing in ways you couldn’t possibly understand when you start out on the path. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the immediate future figuring out exactly how I can sell myself more effectively than I have been. And suggestions would be warmly appreciated.