Shut Up and Listen, My 2016 #SkillsGap Plan: LinkedIn “Mind the Skills Gap” Series

Originally published Jan 14, 2016

In the “Mind the Skills Gap” series, professionals describe the skills they’re honing this year. Read the stories here, then write your own (use #SkillsGap in the body of your post).

There is a saying credited to the Dalai Lama that I have always found powerful.  “Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga.” Just kidding. It’s this: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know but when you listen, you may learn something new.”

It’s hard to listen. We live in a world where we feel compelled to demonstrate how smart we are, how capable we are, how experienced and worthy we are of our roles and place on this earth. We tend to believe the best way to do that is to talk about it.

A huge part of my job is talking. Talk about marketing, talk about campaigns, talk about the product, talk about our amazing portal of endless resources. Talk, talk, talk. Obviously, it’s important for vendor marketers to educate partners on what we can offer them, but knowing what they need, hearing them, is really the first step to helping them grow their business.

As I dive in 2016, listening, removing my voice from the noise, is the #SkillsGap I intend to mind the most, starting with a version of listening that involves one of the most precise and advanced forms of marketing out there today.

Digital Listening: I’m willing to bet that recently you searched on Amazon for a product, then later that day browsed Facebook and noticed an ad on the right-hand side of your screen for the EXACT product you were searching for earlier. It’s called remarketing and it’s frankly a little creepy. But for a marketer is good creepy. It’s greepy. Everyday our partners and customers tell us everything we need to know about who they are and what they need. Are they sending us emails or calling us with a wish list? No. They are searching online, liking blogs, sharing articles, posting and answering questions in forums, tweeting, and Googling “Veeam is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” And all this data is available to us. If we just stop and listen. In this information saturated age, data is immense. Harnessing that data to see exactly what your customers are looking for is like reading your kid’s letter to Santa.  Nothing is left to the imagination.

Mentoring: Listening to someone who has done what I am trying to do has been by far one of the smartest moves I have made in recent years. I hope to not only continue this but to add more mentors and, on the flip side, to do my best to mentor others. You can learn a lot by listening to someone who knows the ropes but also to someone who is younger, driven, idealistic, and still in that stage of believing in their ability to do anything they put their mind to. As we age we tend to lose this belief. We become cynical and hardened by the monotony of our days. I plan to take this youthful perspective back, listen and be inspired. By listening to some younger team members, I have also heard something that warms my heart. I have taught them something, inspired them, or influenced them in ways I had not realized. This is absolutely the type of ego boost I will try to listen for this year. It inspires me to be a better example and seek additional guidance from more experienced mentors who in turn have their heart warmed by listening to me.

Hearing my kids: If I had a dollar for every time my kids said, “Play with me, Mama.” and I told them to wait just a minute while I finished some mundane task, I could look at those Power Ball winners with my hand on my chest, shake my head gently, and say, “Bless their hearts. Pitiful.” in my best Southern drawl. This is a personal goal for 2016 but I hope it teaches me to be smarter about priorities, to make the best choices, to understand the long term effects of my decisions, and dare I use this cliché, see the bigger picture. There is so much more to our lives than just our jobs or the roles we tend to define ourselves by. The universe does tell us exactly where we need to be. All we need to do is listen.

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