6 steps to carving a niche in any field

By Younas Chaudhary

  1. Find an area of your liking

We all struggle to find and pursue our true dreams. During school and college, we may start working in one field, but after graduation we switch careers. When starting our work life, it is too easy to simply pursue what is readily available. And then later, it is difficult to make changes.

Younas Chaudhary

I believe that once you enjoy and look forward to doing a particular type of work in a specific field, this will eventually become your niche and your passion.

Recognizing your niche takes time and honesty. It could be report-writing, budgeting, or graphic design—wherever your talent is impeccable. This is an area where you stand out from the rest, and where others start noticing you for your superior skills.

I myself stumbled into the energy field without any formal education or background. But I was passionate and sincere about the oil industry, and that became my niche, liking, and passion.

2. Look forward to Monday each week

Your passion will lead you to your niche, and you will become an expert in that field. Keep in mind, it takes time and consistent efforts and hard work. I sold cookware door to door before entering the oil industry. You might imagine that these are two totally different fields with nothing in common, but that is not entirely the case. I was a good cookware salesman, and my goal was to persuade homemakers to buy my expensive cookware, as I had to close a sale to earn my commission.

Likewise, in the oil industry, I was working with landowners to lease their land to drill oil wells on it. Here, of course, I had advantage, as I was writing checks to the landowners to lease their land.

When I started in the oilfield industry in 1979, it was during the Iran hostage crisis, and there was a huge demand for oil in America. I leaned fast how to lease land from local landowners. I got connected with a network of farmers who would refer me to their friends and other family members to lease their land.

I liked the smell of crude oil, oil wells, and  the production process, and the wide-open land with lots of oil wells all around made me happy. I was passionate about it. For years I spent hours in the oil fields from dawn to dusk. This consistent passion made me love Mondays instead of dreading each upcoming week.

3. Learn and teach in your niche

Once you find your niche, you will be so excited that you will eagerly start learning more about that field. You will also start to share your expertise and knowledge with others. I taught myself through consistent practice, not through classroom lectures. Often, I was the first one in the office and the last one to leave, as I was passionate about what I was doing. My coworkers slowly began to realize this and started to copy my habits of perseverance and hard work. I adhered to certain routines that set an example for my co-workers to emulate. I checked my projects and made decisions. I stayed involved, open, and transparent on my day-to-day projects. For example, watching costs was one of my constant habits to ensure we remained profitable.

None of my methods were kept secret then or now, four decades later, because I have always known that by learning, teaching, sharing, and being transparent, I could build a successful business that has survived successfully through every volatile oil market.

I am an advocate of sharing knowledge, so I openly talk and share with my co-workers about various tasks and daily projects. This transparency allows us to openly discuss various issues and find solutions. For example, recently one of our property owners sold its business to a new owner, requiring us to negotiate for several days and prepare the transfer papers. This process took our time and created costs, but we were not able to charge our expenses to them under the current contract. After consulting with my team, we added a clause into the contract so we can charge such costs to the property owners in future transactions. Through this experience, I learned something new to add into future contracts, and I taught others to do so at the same time.

4. Market your core skill

After finding your niche, it is important to learn to market yourself as well. In today’s wide open 24/7 internet life, you have several social media networking sites where you can show the world your unique skillset and promote your status as a highly productive individual in your unique niche. You therefore need to move beyond your immediate circle and get noticed by people who matter in multiple industries, and with so many social media tools available, you can definitely create a tribe of your own that understands your skills and your work.

5. Money will follow

If you have found your niche and you are really good at something, money will follow your passion as long as you remain consistent. The more you work hard, build contacts, and establish yourself as a leader in your specified niche, the more opportunities you will get. Keep in mind that in the current digital age, you should be smart enough to show and promote your unique skills to the outside world.

6. Learn to under-promise and over-deliver

I am a stickler on deadlines, and when I promise someone a deadline, I will honor that, and in fact I will usually over-deliver, because I am confident about my expertise. If you have an assignment that needs to be delivered on a particular day, make sure you have done all your homework early, so that you deliver it on time.

Always try to do your best, think long-term, and understand that in a world of clutter, a defined niche is the most valuable thing you can use to improve your own life.

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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.