Last fall, I visited with an alumnus I’ve known for many years. David (not his real name) has progressed in his career, making periodic moves that have provided increasing responsibility and deepened his expertise in a niche area.
David was happy in his work and had solid relationships with his superiors and colleagues. However, while not actively on the market, recent conversations with headhunters suggested that other opportunities were bubbling up, and he was interested in testing his value in the marketplace.
I asked David about his networking and other professional activities outside of his day-to-day work responsibilities. He admitted that beyond occasional professional association meetings, he was not keeping up with or expanding his network, in person or virtually, for example, via LinkedIn.
We had a thoughtful conversation about the importance of maintaining these activities, especially when he was not actively job searching. Certainly, having a network in place provided not only a career safety net, but also provided opportunities for professional growth and advancement that added value to his skill set; therefore, improving the opportunities that might become available to him. We discussed how important it was to have a strategy in place for targeting future career and professional goals, and how a big part of that strategy was tapping into and expanding a professional network. He promised to give it some thought and keep me updated on his progress.
Last week, an upbeat email arrived from David. He applied for and was chosen to head a committee within his professional association. In that role, among other things, he will organize monthly continuing education programs, collaborating with senior colleagues from heavy-hitter companies.
David said it best. “The networking should be very good, and the visibility quite good as well—with both targeted towards people interested in what I do.” This was definitely a winning career move for David—providing an opportunity to showcase his professional strengths and build connections with the very folks who are potential future employers.
Are you being strategic in your career thinking as you look ahead at 2011?
Even without plans to change jobs, professional growth requires that we periodically focus attention on goal-setting and aspirations.
It’s easy to become complacent about setting professional goals. By creating and implementing your own strategic plan you can be certain to chart your best professional course throughout the year. And hopefully, by this time next year, you will have many new accomplishments to celebrate.
Carolyn Bregman 82L, is the EAA's director of Alumni Career Services. A former lawyer, her past roles at Emory include assistant dean for career services and for development and alumni relations at the School of Law. She has more than 15 years of experience in alumni advising.