Last week we focused on three top ways to grow as a professional, one of which was to stay active in your field. This week we’ll give this topic even more attention, as there are many ways – and important reasons why – you should be connected and actively involved in your area of focus. If you extend your reach outside of your company to build your knowledge base and experience, it can benefit your company, your department, and yourself as a professional.

Consider joining a professional association

  • Many professions have a national association or organization designed to support members working in a particular field. Benefits of membership can include continuing education or building credentials, access to career and job opportunities, subscriptions to relevant publications, and opportunities to meet other professionals in or outside of your local area.
  • These associations often function on a national and provincial level; view a full list of Canadian professional associations courtesy of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

Attend national and international conferences

  • There are few better ways to stay connected in your area of interest than by attending conferences, both locally and abroad. Leaders in your field present ideas and new developments, and conferences generally provide several excellent networking opportunities.
  • The content discussed in conference keynotes, panels, and side meetings often indicate where the field is heading or what new developments may be on the horizon.
  • You can gain unique and valuable information or skills at a conference, which you can then apply to your own work back in your company.

Participate in additional and less formal events

  • In addition to conferences, there are other opportunities to participate in less formal discussions and events that are related to your field of work. Meetup.com is a site designed to connect locals with shared interests; though the selection of various Meetups includes hobbies and personal interests, it unites those with similar professional work and objectives as well. Meetups can include anything from a small group discussion to a panel event with notable speakers.
  • Participate in an online forum. Instead of simply posting your resume and credentials on your LinkedIn profile and leaving it there, actively engage on LinkedIn by starting or joining a discussion group for like-minded professionals on a relevant topic. You may be surprised how extended and enriching a LinkedIn discussion can become: these discussion groups have no expiry date, so the conversation can continue to grow indefinitely as more members can join in.

Network – and maintain your connections

  • The key to keeping a strong network is to maintain your connections. You may have hundreds of contacts, but if you do not foster those relationships, they will eventually lose their value.  I always tell my clients “your network is your networth.”
  • Simply maintaining connections now means that you may benefit from them in the future: a fellow professional may present an opportunity for collaboration or partnership; a contact may be able to assist you transition between companies or provide a career opportunity; another contact may become a client someday. You never know how or when your strong contacts will support you – but it is very likely that ultimately they will.

Find out more about our business networking with a twist lunch and learn workshop today and grow your network (and your net worth) quickly and effectively.

 

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Happy New Year! How will you ring in 2013?

Many of us start off a fresh year by making a resolution or two, aiming to better ourselves through small changes to our habits. This year, consider making a professional New Year’s resolution – because even small improvements in your routine in the office or your business interactions can help you to advance your career or make your mark professionally.

Resolve to Make Connections

Are you a shy person who only talks to familiar colleagues at networking events – or just skips the event altogether? In 2013, resolve to break out of your shell by making new professional connections, both inside and outside of your company. Besides participating in networking events, take other steps to build your contact list: set lunch dates with potential partners or clients, or schedule informational interviews with business contacts. Creating and maintaining professional relationships is an important piece of advancing and growing in your field.

Resolve to Be a Leader

Displaying leadership in the workplace is a solid building block for moving up in your company. You can demonstrate leadership in tasks big and small: anything from taking the initiative to assist a new colleague, to planning and executing an important project. Consistently displaying leadership qualities will work to your advantage, especially as management begins to notice your initiative. Practicing leadership can also boost your confidence and comfort level in the workplace.

Resolve to Improve Your Presentation Skills

No matter how impressive the content of your work, your messages simply will not resonate with colleagues or clients if you cannot deliver them in a strong presentation. Giving great presentations is something that many professionals struggle with, whether it is due to stage fright, nervousness or just unfamiliarity with speaking in front of a large group. Awareness of the key elements of an effective presentation – body language, posture, articulation, well-planned slides and talking points, appearance and attire – plus lots of practice can help you to strengthen your presentation skills and effectively deliver your messages.

Resolve to Build Your Executive Presence

Executive Presence
is not a single trait that can be acquired overnight; rather, it is a hybrid of characteristics, which are all critical for a successful professional to have. A recently published study by the Center for Talent Innovation defines the foundations of Executive Presence as gravitas, communication and appearance, and makes no question of the importance of Executive Presence, stating that it “accounts for 26 percent of what it takes to get the next promotion.” You can work on building your own Executive Presence through training programs, Lunch and Learn sessions, customized webinars and individual consultations that focus on skills such as communication, business etiquette, and professional image.

Even through small changes, we can all work toward becoming stronger and more successful professionals. What better time to improve your daily habits for lasting results than at the start of a brand new year!