Operation Recon: Know Your Competition

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.

 

Do your research. Get to know the competition.

It’s no Mission: Impossible, but knowing your competition will always give you an advantage.

WARNING: This blog will self-destruct in 60 seconds!

OK, not really, but when I talk about doing recon work and getting to know the competition, I bet you start playing the Mission: Impossible theme song in your head. No, sadly there won’t be any night vision goggles involved when you’re researching your competition (unless you really want to wear them), but it’s important that you take the time to get to know what others in your industry or even company are doing in order to be better aware of the conditions around you and find success at work. Now, let’s get to work finding out more about our competitors, super spy style!

Suit up! Just like any good spy always has a special, slim fitted advanced polymer suit, you should always dress for success. Whether you’re doing a little research on your lunch break or holding a meeting with your peers on what your competition is up to, you can be assured that your coworkers that are vying for the same advancement as you are will be dressing to impress as well. Management always has their eye on the up and comers.

Pack your tools. A super sleuth packs a strong length of rope, a quality knife and a flashlight. You might not need those exact tools, but it always pays to keep a pen and paper handy in case you find out some information that you would like to research a little more when you’re in front of your computer. Speaking of computers, recon wouldn’t be possible without the internet, so make sure you use it to check up on your competition from time to time.

Slowly lower yourself into the vault. Generally speaking, most of the information you find out about your competition will be through research done on the internet or perhaps even mutual clients. However, you should always keep your ears open for more information. Quietly listening to conversations can sometimes be the best way to find out new, unpublished information about your competitors.

Quietly search through the computer database to find the encrypted files. Of course, anything you hear third hand is merely conjecture unless you can back it up, so do a little digging on the internet if you feel that the information is worth it. Remember, you aren’t a world class spy and you aren’t above the law, so do keep it all legal and ethical.

Create a diversionary tactic in order to leave unnoticed. There is a time and place to talk about your competition, especially if they work for the same company, so if someone tries to corner you into talking about what you know, politely excuse yourself or make an excuse to leave the conversation. Office gossip has no place in the world of a successful businesswoman.

Reap the rewards. Spies get the intel and sometimes the gal (or guy), you’ll get the promotion and respect of your management team. When you pay attention not only to yourself and your projects and also pay attention to the competition around you, then you’ll be able to find success in your career.

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