Jo Miller answers:
Take the three following steps:
Step 1: Identify your personal brand.
Women who have outstanding careers are known for doing something well. They have found a career niche that combines their talents and passions. This is something that their company or industry needs and wants badly enough that they are sought after and highly valued.
One career-threatening mistake many women make is choosing a niche that fulfills their passions and uses their talents, but does not have the highest relevance to the marketplace.
Identify what you want your name to be synonymous with and aim to carve out a reputation for yourself as the go-to person in that area of focus. Select projects and roles that reinforce the brand and make your accomplishments visible.
Step 2: Analyze your network.
You can learn to navigate your profession or industry with savvy by understanding the dynamics of the network that surrounds you. Start by listing or mapping out your existing professional network by identifying all the different groups of which you are a part.
Make sure to include:
- Your workplace team, department, and organization.
- Your industry-wide network from school and past jobs.
- Experts and others you have met through conferences industry events and miscellaneous networking.
- And anyone else who could be considered part of your professional network.
Now identify the gaps: who are the key people you would like to include in your network? Who can connect you with opportunities, resources, and information, and to whom you can provide the same?
Step 3: Create your strategic networking plan.
After reviewing your existing network, and noticing the gaps, create a plan to build a broad network of authentic relationships.
The best networkers take time on a weekly, or even daily, basis to reach out and connect with new and old contacts with the goal of building and strengthening life-long relationships. I recommend setting a quota for lunches, coffee meetings, calls or email re-connects, and sticking to it.
As you do, educate others about your brand and learn about theirs so that you can connect each other with the right people and opportunities in future. Over time, as those relationships mature, you will be able to leverage these to gain access to hidden knowledge and opportunities and contribute the same in return.
Masterful net-workers do this with the knowledge that they will never need to seek out a job again: it will find them. This is the recession proof career.
Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. Through leadership workshops, coaching programs and webinars, Jo helps women create their roadmap into leadership positions in business.