Are you ready to take that first, or next step in your career or entrepreneurial evolvement? Are you past the new-year resolution high and ready to dig in for the long haul to a better you, with resolve and commitment? If so, read on for nine ideas to help you spur your new year goals forward.
1. Do things badly, and you’ll get better over time. I’m applying this in my business right now. A few months ago I published my first business video, a painful-for-me process. Since then, I’ve published a few more, and amid the process have scrapped a few results altogether. While I almost abandoned ship altogether at one point, I slept on my frustrations, regrouped and sailed ahead, with optimistic pragmatism (i.e., I just keep working at it, one video bite at a time).
I’m not a natural at video production, and my business-partner husband is unabashed (thankfully) about telling me where he sees strengths and where I need to improve. I’m finally starting to feel progress with the results, which sparks momentum.
What’s one thing you can do this week that is new and uncomfortable? Take that first step, even if wobbly and imperfect. Keep at it and enjoy the process of learning and cultivating a new aspect of you!
2. Research your audience. Start small by making a top-of-mind list of people with whom you’d like to be connected. What people or companies appeal to you? As you review your list, dig deeper. Look for the company’s key stakeholders and board members. Research them on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Google, Hoovers, Yahoo Finance, Manta, in the Small Business Journal and on and on.
Make notes of what the people value, and what values their employers radiate. Follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Read their posts. Share their updates with credit to them (use their twitter handle). Quote them in blogs you write. Immeasurable is how I would describe the meaningful relationships and opportunities I’ve netted from activity on social media.
3. Be genuine. I listened to a well-known speaker today, and he defined enthusiasm in a way that made me take pause. He described someone who is genuinely enthused about an idea or opportunity, as internalizing their enthusiasm, maintaining an external, quiet glow versus being loud.
4. Prepare for opportunities, and then let go. In other words, don’t assume that, because you’re now prepared to work with or for a particular organization and/or key executive that they are ready for you. Begin paving the way for a potential conversation or connection with specific people and organizations. Keep your options open and provide consistent value.
You may initially be disappointed when the company you have your heart set on doesn’t respond to your virtual calls for collaboration.
However, you may be pleasantly surprised when weeks, months, a year or two down the road, you are sought out by someone on your list who has been observing you, carefully vetting your value based on the deliberate impression you are making, over time, with integrity and consistency.
Just this past week, two contacts I’ve interacted with via social media for several years reached out to me for potential partnerships. Both are meaningful and quality-driven opportunities. This relationship ripening process often is necessary before elevating to the next level.
5. Get off the job board train. Yes, you should leverage job boards, but sinking your search energy too heavily into online applications is energy-depleting. You’ll get lost in a sea of other applicants; gaming the keyword system is exhausting and does not do justice to your value proposition.
Instead, find a path to hiring decision makers that vaults you ahead of the thousands of applicants playing the ATS game.
Even if you are then asked to put your resume into the digital system, you’ve already gotten a leg up by having first been ‘seen’ by the decision maker’s eyes. If you don’t know how to get in front of a decision maker, then learn how: read books, listen to podcasts, attend webinars and invest funds to develop knowledge beyond the free videos and articles. You know the axiom: “You get what you pay for.” It’s true. Hire a career coach. Invest in yourself. Invest in future gains.
6. Don’t look for a recruiter with whom to work. They’ll seek you out. That said, reach out to recruiters to let them know you exist; share a bit about your value in relation to their needs. You may spark a future opportunity. When they are looking for talent like you to fulfill their client’s needs (their client being the hiring company), you will be on their radar.
7. Be willing to work through the complexity. You can do it a step at a time. It truly is eating the elephant, which, day over day, becomes exhilarating. Once you take that first bite, you can go to bed at the end of the day feeling satisfaction of forward movement.
I take my clients through a rigorous, but meaningful process to get from story-less to story-rich. Not everyone wants to do that kind of self-reflective and outside-of-their-comfort-zone work that will catapult them forward in their careers. In fact, very few do. And, that’s okay. But if you truly want to change where you are, you have to make a change, applying action steps that will hurtle you over obstacles that have held you back — or will hold you back from future opportunity.
8. Be self motivated and decisive. You may find yourself in the woods, with thick, distracting trees, unknown creatures with undeterminable motives and a series of weather patterns that make you gulp. Still, you must propel your own self forward, hacking away the growth with whatever tools you can find. And, you must make decisions about which direction to go, when you are faced with a choice. Don’t allow yourself to get mired in analysis paralysis.
9. Keep reinventing. This doesn’t mean you must start from scratch transforming yourself, your value, your message and goals every year. In fact, embrace your current value proposition, but do not forget to refresh it from time to time.
I recently partnered with a graphic designer to modernize my logo. This is just one area of many that I must continually work on to keep my business fresh and my messaging on point, even after — especially after — 20 years in business.
These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg for careerists and entrepreneurs who want to stay current, keep growing and set themselves apart in a sea of candidates and conversations. As action begets traction, I encourage you to pick one or two of these ideas and take a step forward, today!
Dip your toes in the water with my low-cost starter kit. Email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reliv/