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Strategic Career Management

We all know that the invaluable insights and guidance of a great mentor can have a significant impact on our professional journey and career successes. And if you ask those mentors what the most valuable words of wisdom they have imparted over the years, their responses would be strikingly similar – a laser focus, unrelenting tenacity, and a driven commitment to stay ahead of the game.

Advancing your career takes dedication to what you are passionate about, channeling that energy into a plan, and making the commitment to stay on track. It is also about aligning yourself with people who are positive forces in your life. The following are the steps needed to launch and advance your career to the next level:

Create a niche and a competitive edge.  Take time to reflect and find that element of yourself that sets you apart from the rest. This will be the special talent or passion that you will market and promote.  In doing this, you are connecting both emotionally and intellectually to your work and this in turn will become the force that drives you.  When you are connected with what defines you, your work becomes effortless and a source of unlimited opportunities.

Build strategic and positive alliances.  Successful people know how to build a network of strategic partners (peers, colleagues, mentors) who support them both professionally and personally.  Seek those individuals who are positive in nature and help you tap into your unlimited potential.  They are the right help at the right time.  They can also be tapped to simply help strategize your next steps for success within the organization.

Commit to your passion. It is important to understand that creating a competitive edge and making and meeting milestones does not happen overnight. Great success is the product of hard work and a commitment to passion and self.  Always look for opportunities that promote your expertise and make it a point to go that extra mile to showcase those talents. Always be looking for opportunities that demonstrate your competence and capabilities. 

Be generous with your expertise.  Becoming and staying successful requires that you understand what makes you special and what sets you apart from others. One of the best ways to get noticed is to simply help others. Mentoring another or holding a seminar in your area of expertise does not cost anything but can reward you with exposure and positive name recognition.

Politics are important.  The reality is that politics play a tremendous role in how we are perceived and received. By acknowledging all of the players and personalities in an organization and having a keen sense of how to navigate and negotiate between those players, you will be able to find new and exciting opportunities for yourself and avoid possible behaviors or perceptions that may weaken your professional image. It is also important to stay "above the fray” when you encounter conflicts or turf battles. You never know when these folks may become friends or foes in the future. 

Keep current and fresh.  Make it a point to keep track of industry trends on a regular basis.  Even if those trends look more like fads, they will still have an impact on you and the competition. By perusing through trade websites, attending conferences, and studying the leaders in your field you can glean a wealth of information as to how to continuously enhance your skills and your knowledge base.

Protect your assets.  You can have all of the contacts and corporate knowledge in the world, but if you are not mentally and physically fit, you may not be perceived as the best candidate for that position or promotion. Make it a point to exercise your body and mind on a regular basis and listen to your body when it signals something out of the norm.  To be at the top of your game, you must be in the best health possible. 

Plan strategically.  Think of your career as a business and plot and plan accordingly.  Always stay ahead of what is in your best interest and the best interest of your organization.  Be mindful that putting your own best interests in the forefront does not translate into minimizing others or not being loyal to the organization.  Some of the greatest tributes can be achieved by helping others as well as the organization to grow and prosper. 

Advancing your career is a continuous learning process.  So begin today; find that passion, make that plan, and then start to make that difference!

This article was published in The Training Connection, Inc.'s October 2015 Newsletter.

© 2015, The Training Connection, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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