If all you are is what you do, you have no job security. Nada. Zilch. Here's what really matters.
In the past, job security came from working for a company that rewarded employee loyalty. No longer. Today, job security comes from two, and only two, sources: Who you are, and who trusts you.
It is those two elements that will determine if you're valued where you work and whether you can quickly find a job elsewhere. That's the only kind of job security that means anything today.
Who Are You?
In today's outsourced and globalized business world, if you're just a cog, you're nobody.
Sooner or later (and probably sooner), you'll be replaced, if indeed you're even still employed. I don't care how much seniority or experience you've got. If all you are is what you do, you have no job security. Nada. Zilch.
If you really want job security, there must be something about you that's different, that makes you more relevant than everybody else who does what you do. More importantly, other people must perceive that difference and see it as valuable.
Maybe it's a set of skills that goes beyond the norm. Maybe it's the way you present yourself. Maybe it's the way you approach problems and solve them. It can be anything of value, anything that makes you unique.
Can't think of anything? You'd better go figure this one out, and quick.
Once you know who you are, you have to hone your "who am I" message. This is exactly like creating a sales message. You encapsulate in a single sentence exactly what's uniquely valuable about you. Examples:
"I'm the guy who doubled widget sales in two territories."
"I bought a company for a thousand dollars and sold it for a million in two years."
"I majored in engineering and minored in business law."
Once you've created your "who am I" message, you use it when people ask "what do you do for a living?" or "what kind of job do you have?" or "what do you do around here anyway?" It becomes the most visible element of what's usually called your "personal brand."
Who Trusts You?
The other half of the job security equation is the people who trust you to be the person that you know that you are. Notice that I'm not talking about "who you know" or even "who knows you." Those are BS metrics. Plenty of people in this world have hundreds or even thousands of social networking contacts, but are in fact isolated, without any useful business contacts.
The only business contacts that are truly important are the ones that really trust you. Here's a quick test.
Sit down in a quiet place and list out everyone you know. Include friends, family, colleagues, co-workers. Take about 20 minutes. Once you've built your list, rate those contacts according to the following numerical scale:
How much does this person trust me?
1 = Completely. He/she will always me call back, will always meet with me.
2 = Moderately. He/she will probably me call back, probably meet with me.
3 = Vaguely. He/she might call me back, might meet with me.
Now go through the list and scratch out all the 2s and 3s, because they aren't real business contacts. Not when it comes to something important. The 2s and 3s don't contribute an iota to your job security because they don't trust you enough to find you job. Period. End of story.
Rule of thumb: If you've got 20 or more people who trust you (i.e. you gave them a "1″) you have true job security. Provided you've passed the "who are you?" test, of course.
Your challenge is now to expand the network of people who trust you. For all practical purposes the only way to do this is to provide something of value to everyone you meet, and do this with complete and total consistency.
BTW, this is exactly how small companies grow into big ones, how top sales performers build up their customer bases, and how successful companies remain on top. It's a rule of life.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source