May 10, 2021
One of my favorite conference sessions is the one I do for young marketers. It’s all about making yourself indispensable to your boss and to your organization.
In the middle of the list of a dozen or so strategies is a three-word sentence: Make the investment.
My point? It’s time to invest in your own career. It’s time to be intentional and persistent about gaining the skill, developing the expertise, and building our own brand.
Read Part 12: Just Do It
Too often, I run into people who want great careers, but who are unwilling to invest their personal time and money in developing their own careers. They are OK with career building if it is on someone else’s dime or clock.
This is a big mistake.
The harsh reality is this: If you don’t care enough about your career to invest in it, why should your boss?
When someone asks me about how to invest in their career, I tick off five things:
Firstly, find a mentor who is willing to invest their time and experience in you. Over the years, I’ve been mentored, and I’ve served as a mentor. Both experiences were unbelievably rewarding.
Then with your mentor, work out a rough career path. Identify and prioritize the skillsets you will need as you move forward. Ask them to help build the relationships you will need to help move your career forward.
Make the financial investment. Use your own money to buy the book, attend the conference, or take the class. This is important for three reasons. First, it demonstrates your commitment to your career. Second, it helps you acquire more insights more quickly. And third, because you are using your own resources, you don’t have to ask permission. You can follow your career plan rather than the career plan your boss has for you.
Additionally build a network of people you run into at conferences. When you read a blog or article you like, dialogue with the author. Introduce yourself to the presenter after the conference. Go into the exhibit hall and spend time with the vendors. Stay in regular contact with these people. Send them articles or links to something they will find useful. Help them see you as a valuable addition to their network.
Finally, build your own personal brand. I’ve spent much of my career helping colleges build their brands and have been struck by how few people take the time to build their own brands.
Let me offer two recommendations here. First, build your career around two or three “in demand” skills. For example, you might want to be known as the brand person or the mROI person or the strategy person. Likewise, focus on these two or three areas and over time this will become your brand. You will be Addison, the strategist, or Julien the mROI expert.
Earlier I mentioned the need to buy the book, attend the conference, or take the class. Here is my second recommendation: As you advance in your career and as you build your brand, that is also the time for you to write the book (or blog), present at the conference, or teach the class.
In conclusion, let me offer one last bit of advice.
In the early 90s I bought a small stand-up for my desk from Successories.® It says, simply, “Do it now. You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
No truer words have ever been spoken.
Now is the time to quit thinking about your career or, worse yet, worrying about your career. It’s time to put aside the excuses. It’s time now—today—to begin intentionally investing in your career.
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