I am guessing that most of you (me included) have forgotten your big plans for 2012. Just over a month ago I declared to the world that by now I would be well on the way to being so fit that even Madonna would be green with envy, but like most good intentions life gets in the way.
When it comes to our career, we should not leave it to chance. Only we have the power to ensure that we succeed, so any New Year resolution relating to your career should make its way right back to the front of the queue. Some of you will know exactly where you want to go and how to get there, but there are probably others who are wondering where to start.
The key to any successful career plan is knowing where you want your journey to take you. If you have no destination, how can you plan which route to take? This stage can seem rather daunting. I have often taken a step back and asked myself: “Where do I want to go? Where will I add the most value? What roles excite me the most? There’s nothing wrong with changing direction and seeking out alternative routes, but it is important to know where you would like to end up.
Personally, in the future I would like to be instrumental in devising overall business strategy. Based on this I can work out what skills and behaviour I need to develop to fulfil this ambition. This is not to say that I have to keep to a particular career path or route to get there – I just need to find a route that works for both me and my company so we can share in the success.
Learning from others’ experiences is a great way to develop. Effective networking is no different to any other form of research. It could help you obtain information and make connections that could assist you when you are making career decisions.
This face-to-face contact is far more powerful than internet research because you are fully engaged with those you’re speaking to.
So how do you go about getting the most out of networking?
- Know your objective. What do you hope to achieve?
- Identify the right environment. Which events match your needs? Will they host the right audience and are they constructive for discussion and meeting people?
- Be prepared. Target your audience, know exactly what you want to get out of it and be aware of what you can offer in return – networking should be a two-way exchange.
- Explore the unknown. Don’t just network with people from your industry or profession.
- Review your successes. If you’re not making the inroads you expected, reassess the points above.
This might seem a lot to think about, but you wouldn’t go into a negotiation unprepared, so why take that chance on your career?
☛ Nicola Bromby is head of tactical procurement, process and systems, Heathrow Airport