Archives for August 2022

Keep asking for more

Are you content with where you are in your career and, if so, why? Maybe you just want to do the same old and punch the clock. Sounds boring to me, but it could be your thing. For most of us we see there can be more. What that is depends, but, for you, there likely are many options. It’s like the books where you read a page and what page you go to next depends on the option you choose. The point is we each have the ability to choose our own paths.

You always can do more, move up, or maybe move out to move up. Determine your path or next step by always asking how you get to the next level, asking for more responsibilities, and what you need to learn. Asking let’s those you report to or who are above you know that you want to improve yourself and move forward in your career. You may think they assume you do, but if you don’t ask you are leaving it to chance. It’s likely others are asking and will pass you by if you are passive and show no affirmative interest. Of course those you report to could ask you, but may not. Know it’s up to you.

This isn’t about being “boss’s pet” or something similar. It’s about controlling what you can, which is showing interest, asking questions, and following it up with action. At the end of the day asking alone will get you nowhere, but your actions will, whether it’s a work related project or learning on topics you need to know to be able to advance in your given field. We all have blind spots and asking will help you eliminate some of them.

Once you have some answers or direction, it’s up to you to take the reins and ride into your future.

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The world begins at the end of your street

Go to new places and put yourself in new situations with new people. Don’t only stay in the places or with the people with whom you’re comfortable. You either get this or you don’t. If not, you need to think broader about the big world out there. No one grows by doing the same old with the same people every day.

When I heard “the world begins at the end of your street” the context was focused on travel to another city, another country, being exposed to other cultures and ideas. I think that context is important and everyone should try to go to new places. You can have a fun and interesting time in any city or town for at least a few days and nights. The point in this context is if you’re exposed to other places and people you may find somewhere you didn’t know and fall in love with. The person I heard say this is from Scotland, fell in love with Italy as a young man, and years later moved there. This happens.

In rolling the quote around my brain I was thinking about it in a more local and business focused way. Most people get up each morning, go through the same routine, go into their home office or where they work, later go home through their evening routine, and wake up to do it again. What if instead of following the worn path that may be your life you instead made plans to change it up?

This will mean different things depending on your line of work. For me I can get involved in other professional groups, whether made up of attorneys like me or a broader group of people, attend local or out of state conference related to the type of work I do, or join a recreational sports league or club. The options are endless depending on what interests you. The goal is to get into something new that expands you knowledge, circle of people, or opportunities. What that really means is up to you.

You should think about whether you’re in a rut and change could help you. Even if you’re not stuck in a rut, what can you do or change to expand you horizons and opportunities? Take some time to think this through and see what you come up with. If you find something or somewhere cool you think I would like, let me know!

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Networking and deepening your connections matters

Networking is the base onto which your business development efforts sit. Who you know matters. The broader your network and reach the better chance it will lift you up towards success.

It seems obvious that you should want to be known by as many people as possible. We all have different ideas of what networking is or should be. You and I may meet at an professional event, but that doesn’t mean our respective networking activities will be a mirror of each other. You may be there with the goal of collecting business cards and meeting as many people as possible. I may have reviewed the list of attendees, researched them, and am focused on meeting a smaller number of specific people.

Both methods are right and can work. The goal is meeting people, whether a large number or consciously deciding who you want to meet. No matter how you do it you will then need to nurture the connections you make and see whether they evolve into trusted relationships. That needs to happen for a connection to trust making a referral to you or connecting you with one of their trusted connections.

There are many ways to advance professional relationships to the point where there is mutual trust. All involve you committing time and energy into growing relationships. You should think about and come up with ideas and strategies to ‘touch’ your connections. There are various ways to do this, such as by sending an email to check in, forwarding an article on a topic your of interest, or sending a book. Of course, you always can pick up the phone and call. The choice is yours, but you should have a goal of getting to know your connections well enough to know what type of contact is best.

The idea of thoughtful acts or gifts isn’t new, but it is something else you should think about. I have a partner who is great at this. He will get to know people and send them thoughtful gifts. An example is when he learns a connection roots for a specific professional or college sports team, he sends a gift related to that. This is easy to do online. You can bet the people who receive those unexpected thoughtful gifts remember him. Plus, these types of gifts are great because most people will keep them in their office and are likely to think of the sender more often because they are reminded of them every day.

Another idea is to hold gatherings where you can bring your connections together, i.e. be a connector. You need to realize your connections are great connections for your other connections. You can hold a formal meeting, go to lunch, or have a happy hour. The choice is yours, but people appreciate and remember when you are willing to help them by introducing them to your valued connections.

Sitting around hoping for work to find you is not a good method of business development. Instead you need to take action by coming up with a plan and then jumping feet first to networking. Once you start making new connections, the next step is deepening those connections. Do this by making a plan and working on your network every day.

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