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Create Your Own Opportunities

On the phone. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper/Army
On the phone. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Piper/Army
Here is one of those basic laws of life: There will always be opportunities for those who recognize and pursue them. The lucky people are simply those who have taken more chances than average.

But you need a strategy for seizing opportunities, one that consistently demonstrates your passion for and commitment to your field. Stick with your plan, and you'll reap rewards in your job search or business endeavor.

Here are three steps for creating your own opportunities:

Step 1: Find Your Niche

You can make your own opportunities by identifying and pursuing a niche that is either underserved or an emerging trend. Once you recognize a need, look at it objectively from all angles and get creative about how you could serve that need. This strategy applies to both entrepreneurs and those in the job market. You may have an idea about how to do something better, faster, cheaper or at a higher quality. You may have a new service idea.

Step 2: Become a Guru

Make sure your niche overlaps with what you do well and your passion. Once you define your niche, make it your business to know more than your peers about this area.

Now devise a strategy that helps you stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Develop, promote and lead a Web site, blog, online discussion forum or networking group on your area of expertise. Write articles and submit them to magazines, newspapers, related Web sites and email newsletters. Write a book. Self-publish. Do some public speaking. Expand your sphere of influence in your area. Get quoted, consult, mentor or coach.

What you are doing is deepening your knowledge and sharing it with the world. If you do this effectively, you will get noticed among the people who matter in your field. You may become the person people go to for information. This puts you in a wonderful position. You are no longer one of the many, but one of the few.

Step 3: Give in Order to Receive

One of the best ways to advance is to give. This is doubly powerful when the giving you engage in is directly related to your area of expertise.  Whether you host a free industry trends blog, write and give away free articles or volunteer at industry events, you will be contributing in a meaningful way to the advancement of your specialty, and you will be noticed.

Have a range of acceptable outcomes that could emerge from this work. What is your goal? To land a job? To align your work with what you are passionate about? To become famous?

You will, of course, have a primary goal, but be very open to unforeseen consequences. When you commit yourself to something, life has a funny way of throwing opportunities in your direction.

Develop and Work Your Plan

How are you going to pursue this opportunity? You can't and shouldn't do everything. Pick your strategy and tactics, and create a plan. Make it happen. It sounds simple, but execution is the most important part of the process.

Ten Things You Need to Create Your Own Opportunities

Keeping in mind the process above, here is a quick list of the things you'll need to create your own opportunities.

  • The right mind-set: You can create opportunities if you take charge of your career.
  • A spirit of adventure.
  • Self-knowledge: Know your values, skills, strengths and weaknesses, and what you're passionate about. This is the time to shape something to fit you, rather than shape you to fit your work.
  • An idea and imagination.
  • Knowledge and skills: In your area of expertise, yes, but you will also need to acquire skills to help with self-promotion.
  • Ability to analyze opportunities and make sound decisions.
  • Initiative and drive.
  • Courage.
  • Resilience: Success is rarely immediate. Resolve not to abandon this take-action spirit.
  • Flexibility: When you take the initiative, good things happen, but sometimes they aren't what you intended. Be flexible to what life throws your way. You may be surprised.

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