How To Stay Relevant In Todays Marketplace

I surf.

Not in the traditional sense, where you bring a large board down to the beach, hop on board, paddle out, and ride a huge wave in.

No, I net surf instead. If fact, I kind of consider myself to be a net surfing expert. Give me any subject and I know can dive down and find detailed and creative things all around it.

Now lets go on a little journey back in time.

Go back 20 years and tell yourself you will be a master surfer by the time you’re 50. Boy would you give yourself a puzzled look, right? (Especially if you were like me and lived nowhere near a beach!)

Things change. Concepts are replaced. Words change in meaning. And yet somehow we keep track of it to the best of our ability.

No matter how much you stay with today’s technical terms, I know if you are reading this post, you understand the Internet, probably have a mobile device you can view it on, and have read a blog or two in your lifetime. You might have a Facebook account, and probably have texted your spouse/child/grandchild/friend/coworker a time or two.

Would you recognize those words – blog, mobile device, Facebook or texting – if you went back in time?

Just by the process of doing, of being, you develop hidden understanding of the world around you. You learn to apply those concepts in whatever way you choose.

When I first began teaching social media and Facebook classes many years ago, the few people I found that had accounts on a social site, usually did so for one reason:

“to keep track of my kids”

But that simple reason, that simple necessity drove an entire industry, to make people 35 and over now the most powerful community in the online world.

In some cases, we stay relevant because we have to. In some cases, we stay relevant simply by living in our communities.

But while you can probably see yourself changing quite a bit if you look back over the last 20 years of your life, you probably have also felt like a fish out of water a time or two as well. Especially when people a generation younger than you make it look so easy.

“I met the creator of a podcast a while back, and was thrilled at the opportunity of possible working with her. But the problem was she’s 20 years younger than I am, and after the initial conversation of how great I thought her show was, I lost my energy and didn’t have much to say. I felt like I was out of my league with nothing in common. So rather than engage, I fell back and did nothing. I’m regretting it now, but I don’t know how to talk with the younger generation and give them value when I feel I’m not anywhere up to speed on what they know.”

I was networking with someone who made this comment, and I know that her thoughts and comment aren’t unique to her. I know many others have felt something similar, and have probably turned down great opportunities just because of fear. Can you relate? If so, it may be time to reinvent yourself to be more comfortable with who you are. Whether you’re building a business from the ground up, or are marketing it to grow it big, you can’t be afraid of potential partnerships and opportunities that take place around you at every level of your community.

What should you do instead?

Reposition Yourself

Who you’ve been in the past isn’t who you have to continue being in the future. A life coach may choose to reinvent herself as a life coach for stay at home moms reentering the work force. Or reinventing herself as a life coach after divorce. It’s about niching and becoming more specific. It’s about repositioning yourself not only to meet your needs, but to provide a specific service to people needing help in the same area of life.

Partner Up And Create Something New

Are you the kind of person that loves to do everything by yourself? Maybe its time to bring on someone new. Don’t find a person that is just like you. Instead, look for someone that brings something new to the table: someone 20 years younger than you, someone from a different industry, or someone who approaches your subject matter in a complementary but different way. The results may be the best product or service you’ve ever created.

Be The Best You Can Be

If you have clearly defined who you are, its time to let people know exactly what you do well. It may be a matter of gaining certification, or even establishing your own program for certification. It may be a matter of increasing your publicity to become more authoritative in your field. People need to know you’re the best – people around you have to recognize that and refer to you when looking for the best.

Be Open To Experiences

The older we get, the more stuck in our ways we become. Break that habit by doing something new. Do something spur of the moment, or to completely change the way you’ve done things in the past. By opening up your mind to new things, you’ll also find a world of opportunity around you.

Reassess What You Offer

You may be in love with your old business model, but your potential clients may feel they are old and outdated. Is what you are offering today solving an immediate problem that matches a client’s needs today? Are they looking for new things that help them better approach today’s problems? Is there more relevant solutions in the industry? You can’t shelter yourself from realizing what others are doing in your industry, and how you can improve on what you do.

How Is Your Message Coming Across?

Technology changes by the second in today’s world. If you’re running with a five year old website and marketing materials created years ago, your work may be looked upon as old and humdrum. We live in an instantaneous world; we want to feel like we’re getting the best of what money can buy, right now here in the present.

Your Network

Lets face it, if reading the same old trade publications and hanging out with the same group of people hasn’t put you on the path you desire after years of trying, it may be time to stretch and find a new network. Let your old memberships go and find a new group to play in. Change your focus slightly and find new places to spend your time. This will give you a fresh look at why you are and the business you are trying to create.

Increase Your Risks

We all fall into patterns because human nature is comfortable with stability. We don’t like change. But change is the only thing that allows us to grow. Stick your neck out there and take a risk. Sign up to speak at a local networking group. Sign up to take part in a new sport. Book a trip out of the country. Push yourself farther than you ever have before – and be prepared to wake up and see things in a whole new way. Just the act of signing up will change you; by following through and completing the project, you’ll quickly jump by leaps and bounds over the people that choose to do nothing.

Adapt To New Technology

Don’t be scared to take a class or two to understand the latest trends in technology. Ask your favorite 20 year old to teach you a thing or two about Facebook. If you’re going to reinvent who you are, you have to know what’s possible. And let’s face it, things are changing faster now than ever before, and we weren’t equipped to take on this kind of change when we graduated from high school and college.

Remember, it took 38 years to get 50 million people to tune into the radio. Facebook … a mere two years.

Things change at dizzying speed. And while you don’t have to become the best at everything there is out there, it is important to keep up with what can have the biggest impact on what you are trying to do and who you hope to become.