I guess there are many ways you could describe the difference between the two, but I’m sure you have an immediate difference that comes to mind for you. At a recent Producer Training Camp, we overheard one of the attendees describe the difference as the following:
“A job is something you learn once and just do it. A career is something you intentionally choose and commit yourself to constant learning in order to stay current.”
I like that explanation as much as any I’ve ever heard. I know I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who quit studying and learning as soon as he had his degree in hand. It goes without saying that when he committed to being a physician, he committed to a lifetime of learning.
Guess what? You’ve chosen a career. You are a professional. You’ve committed to, and your clients deserve, a lifetime of learning. Just being a reader and a listener, while a great start, isn’t enough. You have to be very purposeful about your ongoing learning.
I suggest you start by evaluating your current abilities, and the future requirements, in the following areas.
Technical Skills – What are the technical skills that have to be razor sharp? What are the technical skills that you need to develop to stay on top of your game?
Some examples might include: alternative financing, actuarial analysis, or compliance issues.
Sales Skills – What is required for you to be able to effectively communicate your value proposition? What new skills would allow you to position yourself as a true partner with your clients rather than just a vendor?
Some examples might include: 30 second commercial, listening skills, closing strategies, effective networking, asking for referrals, etc.
Business Acumen – What is the general business knowledge that you must have in order to have a peer-to-peer conversations with a business owner? What knowledge could you obtain that would have them coming to you for advice about “non technical” challenges?
Some examples might include: national economic trends, operational basics, corporate structure, or perpetuation.
There is no limit to the learning opportunities you need to embrace to make you more effective at what you do and to improve the impact you can have on the business of your clients.