Insert yourself here: How to find your (SharePoint) niche


Every day my high school English teacher danced into the classroom (yes, she actually danced) and with all the theatrics of Shakespeare declared “I can’t believe they pay me to teach the classics!” I thought she was plum crazy. Even as a high school senior I knew you worked to live. You did not live for the opportunity to work.

After 15+ years in the job market, I’ve softened my world view. If I won the lottery next week, I truly believe you’d still find me out here talking about SharePoint. Yes, I’d probably be talking about it part-time and on my terms. But things that interest me today–things that drive my passion, my curiosity and provide that feeling of accomplishment–will still be relevant and necessary, even if the monetary driver behind them ceases to exist.

How can I be so sure? Because SharePoint provides a perfect intersect for me. It is the point at which my abilities, my interest and my agenda (or mission) converge. It serves as the hub or epicenter of my time, energy and focus. If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself working at such an intersection, you’ll find that you’re happier, more fulfilled and more productive.

How do I know that SharePoint is a perfect intersect for me? Because I’m good at it, I love doing it and my organization needs it. It’s that simple.

venn01

A few years ago I went through a team-building seminar. There was a bevy of small-group activities, feel-good moments, etc. One element that stuck with me, though, was the Venn diagram the facilitator drew on the board. She challenged all of us to hone in on a part of our jobs that we loved, that was critically important to the well-being of the company and that we were naturally skilled at. The message was clear: if you can find such an intersect, you should devote ALL your time, attention and energy to it. This is your perfect sweet spot. It is the area that provides you the most fulfillment and the company the most benefit.

Here’s why SharePoint bubbled up as my intersect point:

  1. I am good at calculating SharePoint’s value or Return On Investment (ROI). I have a proven methodology for quantitatively and qualitatively capturing this data and telling the “value story.”
  2. I love learning how to build solutions that reduce or eliminate the “soul-crushing, spirit destroying” work that people hate.
  3. Companies/organizations need these solutions. It improves their speed-to-market, reduces their overhead and helps them engage their employees at a higher level.

The bottom line

We need a litmus test for jobs. It doesn’t need to be complex, but it needs to measure 3 critical elements: skill set, enthusiasm for the work and the driving business need it fulfills. The work should add direct value and positively impact the organization’s bottom line or strategic focus. But it should also hit a high note on your own personal “happy meter.” Think about it–how many jobs are essential to the business but fail to ignite someone’s passion? And how many people have things they’re passionate about doing, but fail to find an organization that views that work as essential?

If you’re not in a job that’s nested within this intersect point, it’s time to do some soul searching. Can you make a business case for building your perfect role? Or is it time to move on?

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5 comments

  1. A nice view Sarah, and definitely matches mine! I’ve been happiest in my career since I started specialising in SharePoint and I think I agree, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still be doing it, probably for charities and certainly on my terms!

  2. I really like the new direction that SharePoint is taking and I think that one of the things I can offer, other than hacking lists with jQuery, is the ability to find solutions for people wanting to improve thier basic day to day file sharing. People want the ability to post things on a web page that others can find and share, and it is hard to do that with WIndows exporer! I think that the satisfaction you get from helping a co-worker publish something on a SharePoint site and then helping them do well on a project is priceless.

  3. Three years ago it would have been very unlikely for me to say I’m entirely happy with my job if you told me all I’d be supporting was SharePoint. Fast forward to today and I am loving my job and the people I get to work with everyday. I think the best part about supporting SharePoint users is that there is such a lack of knowledge of the product that you have the opportunity to blow so many peoples minds with things that are so utterly simple, and yet, I get so excited when a user shows me something they’ve done on their own and they’ve taken advantage of features that make their entire team more productive. I get fulfillment out of my users and the times they simply surprise me. Great article, thanks.

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