It’s about that time again: A new year is upon us, which means new beginnings and the utmost attempts for self-betterment—only with all efforts likely to be abandoned by February. It’s the same story every year, so why should this year be any different?
Some of us will vow to lose weight while others promise to save money. A number of us might even resolve to grow professionally. If you are a part of this latter group, kudos to you! But do you have a plan? Do you have any specific goals on which to focus? What exactly will you do to ensure you are bettering your career and not falling off that New Year’s resolution bandwagon come springtime?
One of the most effective, and seemingly simplest, ways to grow your career is to expand your network. And that goes beyond keeping your LinkedIn account active and up-to-date. Many successful leaders make networking a top priority—something that should be scheduled just like anything else you do.
There’s a proverb that states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” While our careers may indeed be just ours at the end of the day, one should never underestimate where the company of others can lead. Most opportunities arise through conversation, because you never know who is looking for what and when.
This month in Forefront, several established leaders discuss the importance of networking in their own careers and share what they are doing to facilitate such professional interactions among others.
We spoke with Kirsten Mellor, Vice President (VP) and General Counsel (GC) at CafePress Inc., who believes that success begins with relationships. Mellor makes it a priority to network with other in-house lawyers, recognizing it’s important to have a network of peers to bounce ideas off of.
And then there’s Camille Cleveland, Senior VP and GC at A Place for Mom, who is proof that networking can take you to places never imagined. Cleveland makes it a point to send cards and notes celebrating her connections’ birthdays, anniversaries and achievements. It was one such email that led her to a role in Australia as the Senior Australasian Legal Counsel for Ticketmaster Australasia.
Jill Lehman, VP for Administration and Chief People Officer at Ontario Systems, shared with Forefront how she coaxes her contacts out for a cup of coffee or a meal. Because what good is a contact if you’re not actually mining a relationship with that individual?
In addition, we spoke with Aimée Eubanks Davis, who shares a powerful message about the nonprofit organization she founded, Beyond Z. It aims to connect high-potential youth who may not otherwise have access to enrichment programs with unique opportunities in school that prepare them to be leaders in 21st century careers. Eubanks Davis has come to realize firsthand just how critical networks have become in a professional career. Through her organization, she is working to provide such opportunities to those who may not be exposed to strong professional networks, helping ensure they do not fall into the trap of being unemployed or underemployed.
Whether you are the type to diligently prepare a list of goals to achieve in the new year or resolving for January 1 is more of an afterthought to you, networking is a crucial part of any career and can easily be added to your repertoire. Even if you focus only on this facet of professional development, you are bound to enhance your career exponentially in 2015.