Stop Making Excuses Why You Are Not Making Professional Development and Networking a Personal Priority
I just returned from the annual NRWA (National Résumé Writers’ Association) conference #NRWACon2018 in Seattle Washington. It was an amazing few days with industry leaders in the field of #résuméwriting and #careerdevelopment! When working with my clients, I stress the importance of #networking and continuous professional development, so I hope they are reading this now and know I practice what I preach!
Networking with your peers is the single most important element of your professional development and is guaranteed to enhance your visibility in your industry as well as allowing you to be able to make the personal connections that even great online platforms like LinkedIn cannot replace.
It is easy for all of us to rely on social media to help our networking efforts, and while they are an important element of successful #careermanagement, the personal touch cannot be underestimated.
Events such as this conference allow you to learn from your peers and keep current on industry trends and best practices. It is my solemn responsibility to provide my clients with best practice advice and services that provide them the competitive edge in managing their careers; otherwise…why work with me?
With that in mind, here are my responses to the top 3 excuses I hear for pushing networking to the bottom of the list when preparing for, or in the midst of a #careertransition:
“I don’t have the time.” As anyone who has ever worked with a personal trainer will tell you, you must schedule time for yourself. Book it out in your daily calendar. Whether it is done as weekly, monthly, or quarterly structured networking meetings, an annual industry conference, or part of your formal job search strategy to reach out to 1-2 contacts per week to speak with, consider it time you cannot afford NOT to schedule. Another perspective—just like a financial consultant will tell you: pay yourself first! This is paying yourself first. Time is our most valuable resource, so prioritize yourself, because that is how you support yourself, your family, and the other quality of life factors that make your life so rewarding.
“I don’t know where to start.” This is easy—start at the beginning! Begin by personally connecting with the people you work with, resurrect relationships with the folks you formally worked with, and begin to place yourself in their line of sight. Ask your peers how they keep current on the industry you work in and buddy up for the next monthly happy hour or dinner meeting. What? Your peers are more out of touch with networking and development strategies than you? Search online for what you are looking for. Google your professional interests. Check out your connections on LinkedIn as to the professional organizations they follow and determine which are most appropriate for you and will yield you the greatest return for your time and (potentially) money.
“I can’t afford it.” I say you can afford it, particularly because some networking and professional development activities are free! Start with those. Then like your monthly living expenses, create a budget for your professional development activities: meetings, subscriptions, travel, and meals, and prioritize them accordingly. There is an activity for every budget. If it an annual conference that you want to attend, while it may be costly for such a comprehensive event, organizations understand this and generally promote these events a year or more in advance; they know you need to budget and book out the time on your calendar, so often it just takes a planful approach to make this happen. Consider that your current employer may support your efforts and often encourage you to pursue networking and developmental opportunities and pay or reimburse you to attend! Have you asked?
Demonstrate how your development makes you a stronger team member and benefits the business. The great news is this a win-win for everyone. It benefits you NOW, your employer NOW, your customers/clients NOW, and helps you in the future if/when you decide to make a career move.