Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Importance of Networking!

Anne-Marie provides an incredible article on the importance of networking to keep you engaged and energized in your career. Thanks to Anne-Marie and for this inspiring article and hopefully a much needed jump-start in our careers!

Networking to Energize Your Career
Steps to help you avoid career fatigue and to invigorate your professional life.
By Anne-Marie DittaShareThis

Do you bounce out of bed on Monday morning? Are you regularly presented with opportunities that challenge you to think and to grow? Does your salary equal your worth?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you could be at risk for career fatigue. Career fatigue is a condition that weakens self-confidence and prevents advancement to new and exciting opportunities. In order to recover from its immobilizing effects you will have to give your career as much attention as you give to your business projects. Once you accept accountability for your success or failure in the workplace, opportunities will appear that invigorate and inspire you. The following steps will help you grow and thrive in your professional life:

1. Build a strong network. Start by cultivating relationships with people you admire. These are the people who are on or above your level of experience and are either in the same industry or one that complements yours. The best place to meet these people is at professional associations, online networking forums, and inside your own organization.

Perhaps you think you don't have time for this. But professional associations are comprised of people like you who also have busy schedules. These people have improved both their professional and personal lives by investing in meaningful activities and relationships. Most associations have early morning meetings and evening events. Yahoo has an extensive directory of business trade organizations. Find at least one association that interests you and attend at least three meetings before deciding whether it is right for you.

2. Nurture your network. Neglect your network and it will neglect you. I've coached people who have had the good fortune to capture the attention and support of their colleagues and mentors only to let those relationships slip away once they reached their goal.

The people who make it to the top fastest understand the value of staying in touch. Good networkers actively seek to assist others in reaching their goals. A link to an article or Web site can keep you on the radar of someone who has the potential to play an instrumental role in your future. Sharing wins, insights and asking good questions will keep colleagues and mentors in the loop. Whenever logistics allow, meet for lunch or coffee. These measures may lead to your next position or big account.

3. Stay ahead of the curve. Regular participation in seminars, workshops and monthly association meetings is a great way to keep abreast of trends that affect your industry and, ultimately, your career. It can also help you build your network. Now you might be thinking: Isn't that my employer's responsibility? Or perhaps you are worried about taking the time off.

In an ideal world your company would pay for your training, and of course your time is valuable. However, you are doing this for you. You are investing in your career. The fact that your employer benefits from your increased knowledge may be the basis for the next promotion or the reason why a rival organization offers you a better opportunity.

4. Know your worth. Whether you are actively seeking new opportunities or are happy in your current position, be aware of your accomplishments. Years ago, my cousin's husband, Jim, introduced me to a wonderful method for doing this. Jim had rapidly advanced from a sales representative to a regional sales director. The secret to his success was a simple composition notebook in which he jotted down ideas, tracked his wins, and anything else that was relevant to advancing his career. Years later, the information he compiled helped me write a killer resume for him and gave him ammunition to justify a substantial salary increase.

5. Start planning now for your next two positions. Having a career goal is like planning a vacation. You wouldn't plan a trip without having a destination. If you did, you might see some interesting places, but chances are you would end up in a place like Alaska with only a bathing suit to keep you warm. Before you accept your next offer, ask yourself: What impact will this position have on my long-term goals? Will it strengthen my marketability or weaken it?

According to Stedman Graham, "None of us is defined by our circumstances, nor are we defined by how other people perceive us. It is up to each one of us to define ourselves, and that is a life's work. Each of us has the ability to lead a dynamic life by pursuing our unique goals and dreams. There are no limits to what you can do." I hope you will make good use of this advice.

Anne-Marie Ditta, CCMC, CPRW, CEIP owns First Impression Career Services, LLC, a practice helping project managers, global managers, senior executives and recent M.B.A. graduates unlock the doors to new and fulfilling opportunities.