There’s so much talk of following your passion, doing what you were born to do and finding your niche these days that it’s hard to feel like you’re headed in the right direction in life…unless you’re doing just that. With 2012 coming to an end, many of us are looking back at what the year has meant…and looking ahead to what next year could possibly be. Now there’s nothing wrong with working a job that pays the bills and be on a career path that you’ve kind of fallen into, but there is something to be said for living a life that feels like it’s your purpose.
Not to get all Super Soul Sunday on you (yes, I watch Oprah’s OWN channel on Sunday’s with full attention) but there’s great satisfaction in finding your way — finding what you’re good at and succeeding at that skill. Life always has other plans for you, but if you can learn a few pointers that will help you out, you’ll be well on your way to finding your niche.
Here are some of my key tips on how to find your niche, which I’m honestly still developing myself. These are things that I have learned over the past few years and have helped me tremendously, not only in finding my niche but also in growing as a person and mastering some skills I never thought I had.
Network & Connect
This is so important. Networking and connecting with the right crowd is key no matter what type of business you are in or the type of position you hold. If you arm yourself with the right networking ammunition, you can conquer anything and anyone. Connecting and networking with business folks doesn’t have to be invasive, and it’s not about just handing out business cards randomly. It’s all in the art of how you approach them, knowing what you want to take out of the conversation and how you remain connected with them after the initial handshake.
Figure Out Your Skills
The fact that everyone is good at something can be transformed into a successful project. If you’re not sure what your specific skills are, here’s an approach. Focus on the questions that people ask you. When a lot of people ask you the same kinds of questions, it shows that there is a demand for a topic in which you are a perceived authority. Many businesses are created by people who pay attention to what other people want to learn from them. You simply must focus on the core point of how your skill or passion is useful to other people.
Analyze Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Companies believe in creating a SWOT analysis to understand what their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, and you should do the same for your own personal brand. Consider this making the most of your talents and opportunities. Chances are, you are most likely to succeed in life if you use your talents to their fullest extent. Similarly, you’ll suffer fewer problems if you know what your weaknesses are and you manage these weaknesses so they don’t affect the work you do. If you look at yourself using the SWOT framework, you can start to separate yourself from your peers and further develop the specialized talents and abilities you need to advance your career, and prepare you for the road ahead.
Your Personal Brand
That’s right — you are your own personal brand. Branding reflects your personality, your traits, the way you dress, the way you shake someone’s hand, the way you communicate with others and the list goes on. It really does define what you are all about and how you come across to others.
Don’t Be in a Rush
I’m an impatient Sagittarius. Especially in my 20’s, I always wanted everything now. You name it, I was in a rush to get there. But I’ve learned through my experiences: Rushing. Doesn’t. Get. You. Anywhere. Ambition, on the other hand, is entirely different. Ambition, drive and tenacity are rock star traits because with those, you often find that you get to your final destination much quicker, and you do it all without rushing but taking the time, effort and skills to get there.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
The word “fail” often scares people because it is seen as a sign of defeat and well, um, failure. Everyone fails at something in his or her life. It’s what you take away and learn from that failure that makes you a stronger person and allows you to grow. Keep in mind that what you see as a failure is not necessarily what others see in us. Look at those so-called failures, learn from them and move onward and upward.
Be willing to see the positive in failures and learn from them.