How to undertake SWOT analysis?

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SWOT, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, is a useful model MBA students use to analyze the strategic positions of companies, brands or business units. Before launching yourself in the job market, you need to SWOTify yourself in a rigorous way, as this exercise will help you to position yourself in creative ways.

How to undertake SWOT analysis
The model is a basic two-by-two table, with strengths and weaknesses laid out in the top two boxes and opportunities and threats in the bottom two. You've probably considered your strengths and weaknesses already, but the SWOT model takes it a step further by making you think about the external factors that bear heavily on the health and direction of your career. These
factors -- mainly physical location, industry, company and profession -- signal potential opportunities and threats. Looking at the quadrants together can be a creative way to think about where you're in your career and the directions you could take.

To get an idea of what you could incorporate into your own SWOT chart, look at some of examples in each category:

Strengths
Strengths are your internal, positive attributes and selling points. You've some control over
these factors, examples include:
• Positive personal traits.
• Relevant skills, competencies, knowledge and work experience.
• A solid education.
• A strong network.
• Commitment, enthusiasm and passion for your field.
• USPs/differentiators

Weaknesses
Weaknesses are your internal negative attributes. You've some control over these as well.
Examples include:
• Negative personal characteristics and poor work habits.
• A lack of work experience or relevant experience.
• A lack of education.
• No network or a small one.
• A lack of direction or focus.
• Weak professional or career management skills.

Opportunities
Opportunities are uncontrollable external events that you can potentially leverage. Examples
include:
• Favorable industry trends.
• A booming economy.
• A specific job opening.
• An upcoming company project.
• Emerging demand for a new skill or expertise.
• Use of a new technology.
• Referral to a high-powered contact.

Threats
Threats are uncontrollable external factors that may work against you and require you to take
protective action. Examples include:
• Industry restructuring and consolidation.
• Changing market requirements and their impact on your employer.
• Changing professional standards that you don't meet.
• Reduced demand for one of your skills.
• Evolving technologies you're unprepared for.
• The emergence of a competitor, either to your company or to you personally.
• A company decision maker who doesn't like or supports you.

An external factor can sometimes be both a threat and an opportunity. For example, the emergence of a programming language that replaces the one you know is a threat if you do nothing about it; it can be an opportunity if you commit to becoming one of the early experts.

Do your own SWOT analysis
1. Draw a two-by-two grid on a sheet of paper.
2. In each quadrant, write out ideas in bullet-point form. Be as specific as possible.
3. Stretch your brain to come up with true insights. Take a break if you've to, and revisit your analysis when you're fresh. You should discuss your SWOT with your inner circle  friends to get their views.
4. Edit. Delete repetitive ideas and sharpen less specific ones.
5. Analyze what it all means. Use the tool to:
o Validate your current position.
o Understand the skills, attributes and experiences you should emphasize and the ones
you should downplay.
o Brainstorm possible career directions.
o Highlight opportunities to take advantage of.
o Flag possible threats.Determine possible actions.

Determine possible actions

There're four types of actions you could take:
1. Strengthening a specific skill or adding something to your strengths quadrant.
2. Minimizing or eliminating a weakness.
3. Pursuing or exploiting an opportunity.
4. Protecting yourself from threats.

Revisit and update your SWOT chart periodically to add a level of sophistication and effectiveness to your career planning.

Selling is the 2nd oldest profession
To some minds, the very idea of downsizing oneself to the product or brand and selling may seem secular, profane and humiliating. In reality, we admit or not, we're all products. We add value to families, communities, organizations and nations. I believe Selling is a discipline of divine and prophetic nature. Putting ideas across and persuading the people to think your line isn't all selling? Selling is the 2nd oldest profession of the world and 1st oldest noblest profession.

Take it as your flight manual
This book will take you to the thrilling expedition of discovering your intrinsic strengths and packaging, promoting and placing them in such a palatable and enticing way that your potential customers (i.e.; employers) perceive you as answer to their prayers. This book isn't about only making your résumés and writing Cover Letters. It'll guide you on how to manage yourself like a brand. It's manual of your flight plan. In the words of Brian Tracy, you need a flight plan to
succeed. Just like an airplane pilot, you must make course corrections to arrive at your destination...your goals. When you learn to create your flight plan, your life will become a success. Like any good pilot, you need a flight plan that you file before you begin and that you use to guide you on your way.

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
CHINESE MAXIM

This book isn't just for browsing and pleasure reading. The contents of the book are worthy of digesting, assimilating, absorbing and applying during the tumultuous journey of personal selling in an uncertain job market.

A lion tamer must always be one move ahead of the lion, because if the time ever comes when the lion is one move ahead that will be end of his days as a lion tamer. Perhaps the secret of success lies in keeping ahead of one's competitors.

Having agreed that we all are products and potential brands, now we need to go one step further to brood on the entire spectrum of personal branding and selling.

Continue Reading The Craft of Selling "Yourself"

Ashraf Chaudhry is a successful corporate executive turned sales trainer and is author of  The Craft of Selling "Yourself".  He is Pakistan's 1st and one of the few trainers in the world to give money back guarantee on training workshops. He frequently conducts sales training workshops for blue-chip organizations. It is his passionate dream to transform Sales Management to Sales Movement. Here is my free Chapter 1 of my book to you: Free eBook: The Craft of Selling "Yourself".

Let us become friend, please follow me Twitter.

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