networking

How to Keep Up the Momentum For Your 2016 Career Resolutions

Just because the "New Year" feeling may be starting to fade, doesn't mean your resolutions need to lose steam.

Here are a few tips to make sure you keep the momentum going for 2016 and finish strong in your career goals.

1) Expand Your Network, But in a Targeted Way.

The internet and mobile economy has made the world much closer. It's never been easier to connect to folks that share your interests, goals, and mission. But with that, it's also been much easier to clutter your network with connections that don't add value or purpose.

 
This year, be sure to do an audit of your connections. Revisit groups that you subscribe to and focus them in on only the skills and topics that are going to add to your development.
 

Make sure to do a connection audit, for example if your goal is to get a new job in design work, then you might want to follow a few creative design boards on Pinterest, while cutting out a few of your LinkedIn groups that message you about past interests on which you are no longer spending time.

You may also consider joining a few new Meetups like this new one for DC Careerists. While it's okay to have multiple interests in different spaces, it's best if they are mutually supportive and few, which will help you move into our next step below.

 
 

 

2) Develop Your Specialty.

Companies, especially startups, are more and more looking to hire candidates with multiple skill sets. But this by no means, means that you should not brand yourself as a specialist in a particular field. While a new company might say they are looking for a "jack of all trades", it's actually really hard to identify one. You can set yourself apart by having a specialty with supporting skills.

 
Set yourself apart by becoming a specialist in one area, with your secondary skills supporting that one.
 

For example, imagine a great developer with sales and marketing experience that also does PR work and can manage your accounting books. Where do you start this person? What if designing a website is more important to the hiring company than the accounting side? Chances are you've already forgotten one of this person's skills even though it was just a few sentences ago.

Use this time of your 2016 to look at your skill sets and see where you would like to focus and/or bolster your professional skills this year. Organizations like General Assembly are a good resource to take a few training courses that will really define you as a specialist, which is a great segue into our next step.

 

3) give your Professional Brand a test drive.

After you have identified what your specialty is (or will be), test it out in your network to see if it holds up. Try the following activity: Ask 3 of your friends, 3 of your family members, and 3 people in your professional network what you do for a living. Chances are, if you are like most people, you'll find some pretty humorous material. Oftentimes even your current/former coworkers in other departments may not have a clear definition.This can be for a number of reasons, but ultimately it boils down to how you communicate your value to others. Your elevator pitch of who are and an example of what you do is key.

 
Create a one or two sentence elevator pitch about who you are as a professional. Also think of one relatable example you can give that will help people remember.
 

For example, if you are a PR consultant for public policy organizations, you might be able to say something like: "I help organizations educate the public about changes in health policy. Basically I'm the Olivia Pope of the healthcare industry." Sure you can give them a huge, dry, bulleted breakdown of what exactly this means, but chances are if the person you are talking to isn't in that industry then they will soon forget anyway. You want to make it memorable and easily repeatable. This will add much value to you when these people can refer new contacts to you.

Also, this is now the time to start branding yourself as a thought leader. Remember that specialty you picked for yourself? Well that is what you want to build your brand around. Try to connect to organizations that need this expertise (organizations are always looking for speakers for their events). Or if you aren't the public speaking type, publish a few articles on LinkedIn around topics related to your specialty.

 
 


4) Don't Do It Alone!

Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do to energize the rest of your path toward your 2016 career goals is to bring others with you. Reach into your close network of friends or colleagues and build a small support team that can help one another reach their goals. These people's goal is to hold one another accountable to whatever your goals are throughout the year. Even if it's just something as simple as calling or emailing to check in to say "Hey, Mike! Hope all is well. Just checking to see if you made that move to London you were trying to make. I came across this job opening there you should check out. They're looking for an Olivia Pope!"

 
But make sure it’s not one sided. Be sure to add value to others in your network and you can rest assured that your network will remember you when they can help.
 

Everyone is looking for a mutually beneficial relationship, as you give back, your network will give back to you. Whether it's forwarding a great article you read that you think lays within their interest, or referring them to great new career opportunities, the more value you add to your network, the more you get out in return.

Add these great few tips to your 2016 and you can bet that 2017 will be even more momentous.

Make the Most of Your 2016 Momentum: Founder/CEO Edition

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1.Take Your Self-Care Seriously

If you have the flu, go to the doctor. If your ankle is sprained and swollen, go get it checked out. You’ve got a little pain in your lower back, schedule a massage. Your financial models stressing you out, take a walk or drop in a session of relaxing yoga.

 
Your body is a vehicle of your emotions and a vehicle of feelings and a vehicle of whatever you need to get done in life. And you’ve got to take care of that vehicle.
— Eva Longoria
 

The best thing you can do to sustain your momentum is maintain your health and well-being.Put your self-care first. Without you, your business will not run itself. If your body is telling you that you need time to rest, do it and get well.

 

 
 

2.Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Create a focus point, process or plan. How do you determine what you want to accomplish this week,  month, quarter or year? Whether it’s a vision board, mindmap, project list, evernote entry, Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet, you have to find a way to capture your plans.

 
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
— David Allen
 

Want to take it a step further? Plan out the steps for each goal or resolution and give yourself a SMART deadline. Check in with your plan and re-evaluate your progress and future efforts.

 

3.Embrace the No

Are you available to attend an event the same night as your evening Twitter chat? No. Can you pitch in a volunteer project the week of your MVP launch? No. Are you able to spend $250 a plate for a fundraising dinner when you set to decrease your personal budget by 25%? No.

 
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.
— Warren Buffet
 

Don’t be afraid to say no to conflicting appointments, controversial/unethical ideas, unwanted/unsolicited advice, potential problem partnerships, or pro-bono efforts.

4.Create an Advisory Board.

Trying to start something in a new industry or outside of your field of expertise? You’re going to need more people. An advisory board should be people who you trust, can talk about the good, bad and the ugly and keep things between you and them.

 
We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.
— Thomas Moore
 

It’s important to know what you know and to know what you don’t know. While working on your venture it’s important to be surrounded by a room full of diverse perspectives.

 
 

5.Create a Community

Don’t worry about having a following, create a community. Your ideal user should be compelled to be connected to your product/service. If you’re adding value to their values, beliefs and lifestyle, you’re well on your way.

 
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
— Cesar Chavez
 

Think of yourself as a community evangelist-- An involved community will build, sustain and grow your brand, venture or organization.