There's only so much you can learn from a book, a CD or dare I say....a podcast. And as important as those tangible technical skills may be, what's becoming more important today is the intangible artistry of communication, vision and relationships.
It's the difference between the tactics of doing your job and the strategy of managing your career. Everyone works for at least two companies at a time, one that that makes deposits in your financial bank account and another that makes deposits in your emotional bank account. The latter fuels the former not unlike any business whose strategy creates tactics.
The strategy of managing your career is a muscle only a few people exercise...like your boss, and their boss and so on up the ladder. The more you exercise it the bigger it gets and the bigger it gets the bigger your career gets...and all the stuff that goes along with it: more money, more benefits, more time off, more recognition, more happiness (?).
Here are just a few things you should at least be thinking about to help manage your career:
- What's your vision beyond a five year plan? Title, industry, accomplishments...if you don't know where you're going you'll end up somewhere else.
- Who are you being? Can you describe your corporate persona? How do others see you and how does that match with how you want to be seen.
- How do your relationships work? From the water cooler to trade shows to associations today's world is as much about who you know as what you know.
- When are you ready? Can you quantify what you've done and what you need to do to get to the next level?
- Where is this going to happen? Will you have to relocate -- either your job and/or your home?
- Why? What's your motivation beyond a paycheck? Family, giving back or the ever popular selfish greed and ego satisfaction.
Your toolkit should include mentors & models that you can learn from and build off of. You'll also need a few magazine subscriptions, association memberships and a little schmoozing. Consider other education resources -- places where you can learn to write articles for the trades, public speaking for those trade shows and the art of leadership.
I think it might be wise to snuggle up next to a head hunter or two... of
course this is only my opinion, but itís one I value highly.