In recent years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to run the entire SEO team for a 1400+ employee company that is rooted in search marketing and entrepreneurship. With this being the case, it’s also left me continually thinking about the attributes and qualities of the leaders around me that have made them so successful – a few who have been in the digital marketing industry since before 1997.
More importantly, I’ve repeatedly considered not just the qualities, but what it takes to obtain that skill and “level up” in a notoriously competitive industry.
Push Yourself in Areas you’re Not Comfortable In
This is one of the best things you can do. If you’re in your comfort zone, then learning new skills takes a backseat to your own complacency.
For example, this past weekend I was tasked to migrate a site from one server to another. I’ve done this a few times before, so no big; however, I’ve never done this with a Joomla site. The file transfer was successful but the search friendly URLs wouldn’t work in the same manner as they did on the previous server. So, after about 15 hours of searching forums, I finally just had to play with the .htaccess file before finally making everything work correctly. I was way out of my comfort zone here, but I never would’ve acquired the additional knowledge and skill without it.
Never stop learning
Piggybacking off the previous point and possibly the best advice anyone can give – never stop learning. Always ask, “Why?” If traffic jumps or drops suddenly, don’t just say that’s great, find out why and try to repeat it or fix the issue.
Being complacent is the easiest way to become irrelevant, and as with any type of digital marketing – especially SEO – if you accept that your current tactic is the norm, then it’s already out of date.
Work to have an Entrepreneurial Spirit
An entrepreneurial spirit isn’t easily acquired. In fact, I believe it’s more of an innate quality that only a few people really possess. However, the idea here is to develop new processes, products and tools that can aid you and your team.
Realize that you are Your Own Product
You are your own product, which means as soon as you step in the office understand that you are on stage. Show people you care about what you do, because when a manager or superior knows you care it makes it easy for them to take you aside and teach your more.
This is especially important to remember when you want to increase your roles or responsibilities. Because when you care for and are nailing the job you have, it becomes much simpler to pitch yourself for the job you want – just be sure you can demonstrate a solid understanding of that job.
Be Responsible for Yourself
What I’m saying here is that you need to be responsible for yourself and don’t let your boss HAVE to manage you.
If you have a question that isn’t company specific, there’s this awesome thing called Google. If you don’t know the answer, search for it from a reputable source. Remember, if you’re doing well, you’re making guys like me redundant.
Learn How to Communicate
Always seek the simplest, most elegant way to communicate. No one has 30 minutes to an hour for a meeting that goes off-topic.
And, as a subtopic, never forget to follow up – no matter how long it takes.
Rehearsals aren’t Restricted to Actors
Rehearse everything. This is what makes the entire difference between just okay and amazing.
Learn something new once a week. That’s how you avoid complacency and stay relevant, permanently.
You Can’t Master Everything
It’s good to have a common understanding of what other’s do; however, you have to realize that you can’t master everything. If you’re looking to make yourself indispensable, you need to learn a specialty. Take hold of your area you love and dive deep. Understand every bit of that focus and make it your own.
Learn How to Sell Anything
Whether you are a link builder, account manager, receptionist, or manager you need to learn how to sell. Selling takes place all the time. Offering services, asking for a raise, getting a link and convincing the c-suite all involve selling. Even when you go to a job interview you are selling a company on why they should hire you.
Become a Leader
If you want to be a leader, first learn to read people. Be able to uncover their strengths and weaknesses and determine how that fits with your team or workflow. The difference between a good leader and great leader is that a great leader will empower their employees and will work to make sure things get a little better every day.
Homework to Level Up:
- Get a mentor – or find someone your respect and follow their work
- Build your own website
- Now build your own website on a CMS other than WordPress
- Rewrite or redesign a landing page
- Install a web server, start with Apache and send enough traffic to it to break it
- View log files and find 4 crawlers on your site that aren’t googlebot, bingbot or slurp
- Build a web crawler or spider
- Make something and sell a copy online
- Build a tool
- Contribute to an open source project. Github makes this very easy
- Run a conversion rate test
- Run a live usability test (buy a stranger a bagel)
- Get a journalist to run a story based on your tip – actually pick up a phone and call them
- Present to a crowd of 200+ people
- Present to your manager or the board
- Negotiate with a salesperson
- Attend a meetup or conference
- Debate a business case
- Reach out to a hero of yours
- Visit a newsroom
- Make 10 cold calls
- Answer three customer calls
- Record a webinar or Hangout
- Film and edit video
- Make a graphic
- Make an interactive graphic
- Build a wireframe
- Remove an element from a photo
- Write for a publication you’ve paid to read
- Look at a positive piece of feedback you receive and instead of patting yourself on the back, reflect on how you could improve in each of those situations