Differentiation in 5 Easy Steps


Two campers are hiking in the forest when a bear suddenly jumps out of a bush and starts chasing them. Both campers start running for their lives, when one of them stops and starts to put on his running shoes.

His partner says, ‘What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear!’

His friend replies, ‘I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you!’

90% of Twitter users have less than 100 followers. It takes only a few hours for someone aggressive to gain their first hundred followers. Those numbers indicate that only 10% of Twitter users care about their following enough to spend a few hours gaining followers. Want to differentiate yourself? Be in that 10%.

LinkedIn profiles have a % complete. If you add a picture, you get 25%. Get a connection, you get 10%. Someone writes a performance review for you, gain 5%. What percent of LinkedIn profiles are 100% complete? Very few. Yet your percent complete increases your relevance in LinkedIn’s search engine. Imagine your name is Derek Christensen. It’s not the most unique name in the world. Go ahead and plug it in Google. This website is first, LinkedIn is second. You’ll notice that there are 17 people on LinkedIn named Derek Christensen. Yet whose profile is first in the results? Mine. Why? It’s 100% complete, I have a decent number of connections, and I asked for multiple recommendations. The recommendations are what truly differentiate you in LinkedIn. Not many people have them, so their profiles are incomplete. I’m first in the LinkedIn search, yet I’ve spent very little time on my profile. It doesn’t take much to request recommendations or go on a connection-adding spree.

I mentioned that this site is now first in Google when you search for “Derek Christensen”. That didn’t happen naturally. This site was fourth on the list until I decided to dabble in a bit of SEO. I used various tools, such as HubSpot’s Website Grader, read multiple blogs, installed different WordPress plugins, made insightful comments on other blogs, and was able to bump it up to the top spot. How long did it take me? About 8 hours total.

Thank you cards. In a world where most people struggle to write an email expressing gratitude, a hand-written card will take you far.

You’re going to a job interview. Take the time to research the company. Practice your responses to typical questions. Is it a behavioral interview? Make a list of scenarios where your work has been impressive. Case interview? Study up, read Case in Point, practice with a friend.

These things aren’t rocket science. Neither is differentiation. In all of the above examples, differentiation was achieved in 8 hours or less – one working day. So what’s stopping you?

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