To succeed in your current job and to prepare yourself for future opportunities it is critical to make networking and learning part of your normal routine. This will keep you relevant in your current position as you prepare for future opportunities. With a little practice and discipline it is entirely possible. Don’t get so busy doing your job that you forget to invest in yourself and your future.
Even while you are successfully employed, networking it critical to your professional development and learning. Maintain the network you have and continue to build your professional network. Successful networking does not require large blocks of time, a few strategic minutes here and there makes a difference.
- Network within the company – learn what other departments do and how that influences your work, learn what skills enable people to advance in their careers, be interested and interesting, meet someone for coffee or schedule a lunch. Set goals to keep yourself focused on networking
- Leverage Linked In – keep your profile up to date, seek recommendations, post updates, review your skills list, use Linked In to find former managers to stay in touch for future references, find former colleagues and reconnect, identify alumni connections in key companies of interest, keep expanding your network
- Networking beyond your current employer – participate in relevant professional association meetings and conferences, learn best practices from others, build your network in companies of interest, identify people you can learn from
- Mentor – identify a professional mentor, gain insight from someone who will tell you the truth and help you learn and grow in your career. Consider mentoring someone junior in your field.
- Give Back – host informational interviews with people more junior in their careers who wish to learn from your experience, you may learn something too while you are helping them
- Set goals and hold yourself accountable so networking doesn’t fall to the bottom of your growing to do list
You need to be continuously learning to grow professionally. Be creative in identifying different ways to accomplish that.
- Internal Training – identify relevant internal training sessions, build your technical skills, managerial skills, learn something new, work with your manager to identify relevant training and make it a priority
- Professional Organizations – identify at least one relevant professional organization, attend meetings, meet other members, volunteer to work on a committee, get involved, your learn something from those you work with in these groups
- Professional Conferences – if budget allows, take advantage of these opportunities, learn from the sessions but also from other attendees, if budget doesn’t allow, review the presentations online after the conference, follow up with relevant presenters
- Take on New Projects – volunteer to work on a project or with a team that forces you outside your comfort zone, force yourself to learn something new, let your manager know the type of skills you seek to hone and look to identify a project assignment which is relevant, consider a cross functional project to expose you to other parts of the organization
- Read – stay current on relevant industry and business periodicals, read while waiting for meetings or while commuting if you take public transportation, always have something relevant to read in case you have unexpected downtown, make it a habit to review the key publications on a regular basis, be well-informed
Investing a few minutes each week in your own networking and development will increase your satisfaction with your current position and will keep you relevant and growing for future opportunities.