By AFWA Executive Director, Ericka Harney CAE, CFRE, GPC, CVA
Co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, once stated “You have to be constantly reinventing yourself and investing in the future.” In a climate where success can depend on your action in response to industry changes, staying relevant is critical.
Staying relevant is very different from being current. Relevancy is action! Reading the news and knowing about a about a boom in your market? That’s being current. Contacting your client to tackle more sales in response to the boom? That’s relevancy. Many people also look to technology as a soul source of staying relevant. Far from it. You can have some of the best software, mobile devices and access to information but if it’s not used at all, what’s the point? And relevancy doesn’t have to happen in your career alone. It can be industry specific, on a board or other volunteer role, or even parenting!
While relevancy can be a part of any life facet, we do spend much of our adult lives working. As part of our career progression and success, relevancy is critical. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in your career 20 days or 20 years – you have to stay relevant to your customer. Here are few areas to make sure you’re up to speed:
- Be able to sell you AND your company – whether you call it an elevator speech or pitch points, know the key highlights of yourself and experience, as well as for the company that employs you. Take a few minutes every two weeks or so to review and update. Regardless of how long you’ve been at your company or doing your job, you have to be able to sell yourself well.
- Manage first impressions – when was the last time (if ever) that you Googled yourself? Hit search and see what pops up. On the first page, are these the things you want someone to know about you first? If not, what needs to be there? Usual needs include LinkedIn, company website, blog posts or articles you wrote, or even your own personal website. If you’re not on LinkedIn, get a profile ASAP!
- Until the trend changes, use Twitter – most of you are probably not even thinking about your next career move. But over half of recruiters are on Twitter and use it to find the best candidates. Build up a decent presence now that you can use later. Even if it is building your company’s brand or participating in Twitter conversations. Follow the best in your field and retweet. Was all of that Greek to you? That’s ok. Take a little time to understand Twitter and it will be to your benefit.
Other Relevancy Tips
Relevancy isn’t just related to your career or job specifically but these additional tips can also help in keeping you relevant in all your roles:
- You have to make relevancy a priority – I personally think this is easier when it is part of annual goals. Whether that is professional development, updating social media accounts, or making one new connection every week, it must be front of mind.
- You can always learn something new – and it’s my firm belief that everyone should be open to learning something new regardless of credit it may provide toward keeping or earning a credential. If you restrict your learning to only what you HAVE to learn, does it really do you any good? You can always find one good take away from a session, workshop or course.
- Stay connected – for those of us who did not grow up with 24/7 connection, this can be a little harder. While there is much debate about being available 24/7, there is value in making sure you check-in after business hours. If you don’t, your competition may get the business or contract over you.
- Practice self-care – otherwise, you will burn out. I think most of us know that feeling from one time or another and it’s not a good one. Know when you need to disconnect but delegate the responsibility while you’re out. Learn what helps you ‘reset.’ Is it a good walk? Is it spending time with family? Do you need to get out of town? Is a day at the spa required? Figure out what is helpful for you in terms of self-care and make sure you work it in as much as a grocery store run or laundry.
- Be flexible – in all situations so you are always an asset to the team or your group. Be able to share experiences while also being open to new ideas or solutions. Point out costs as well as benefits so everyone knows you’re open and flexible, thus easy to work with but also decisive to get the work done.
Relevancy is going to differ from person to person, so only you alone can determine how to stay relevant in the many roles you find yourself in. Check in with yourself at least once a month to see what might be on the horizon and think of how you can work on your relevancy. Below are some additional resources to check out as well. Good luck!
- Ross Shafer – https://rossshafer.com/.
- Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change – Randy Pennington
- Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace