Do you notice at this time of year we are inundated with advice on how to make this the best year ever? And it’s almost always a significant commitment? Learn an instrument, run a marathon, study a new language. Whew! All great achievements! And if this is your year to take on something big then go for it and may you be supremely successful!
But let’s be honest. Not everyone is able to take on his or her life dream just yet or realistically has the time to devote to extended study. Life circumstances change for each of us year to year and sometimes, even thinking about taking on a big challenge can be daunting. This is true for everyone but particularly for those of us in the events industry. We often can face extended periods with little or no time to ourselves.
Whether it’s your workload or personal commitments…or more often a combination of both, the reality is that life can be crazy busy. Carving out time to further our professional growth and development can be challenging. But we all know it’s important and when the end of the year comes around, we want to feel like we’ve accomplished something.Right?
The good news is that not every achievement needs to be HUGE to be meaningful. Small changes can deliver a big impact toward furthering your career!
Here are a few suggestions that, if made into a checklist (and were all checked off at the end of the year) would help us feel satisfied that we have moved forward in our professional growth…with a little personal satisfaction thrown in.
- Take one class, seminar or workshop. This doesn’t have to mean long periods of intense study. Take an evening workshop to learn more about social media marketing, or a class on improving negotiation skills. Take just one course towards your preferred event management designation. Find an online course to help with writing. You get the idea. Think of just one skill or business attribute you’d like to improve or learn more about and add it to your portfolio this year.Don’t let the fact that you don’t have time to take on your MBA or complete a full course at something stop you from doing anything. (Continuous learning looks good on a resume too!)
- Commit to listening well. You’ll have to work hard at this one (it’s tough) but it doesn’t take any extra time out of your day and the benefits are ongoing and rewarding. The best place to practice is in meetings. Try to stay focused on everything that is being said without letting your mind wander and without preparing a rebuttal or response in your head. (Most of us are already forming our response while the other person is still talking and we miss what they are saying.) Pay attention to body language, word choice and facial expressions. What is the person really saying and what are they feeling? It takes practice but can make a tremendous difference to what you get out of a conversation and in return your own communication.Being a good listener is a significant business asset!
- Read a business book. There are lots out there. Find a topic and read reviews to find something that interests you. Don’t worry about being too literal. You will find something that benefits you or inspiration in almost anything you read. Whether you are looking for ideas about change or teamwork or just want to read what a world-leader has to say this is time well spent and can fit into any spare moment. (Also gives you something to talk about at business gatherings or even in an interview.)
- Volunteer. Here again this doesn’t have to be a massive commitment. Just volunteer for something.The rewards will be far greater than the effort! You can volunteer for a few hours at an event to expand your network or learn something new, volunteer at a charitable event to lend your expertise or even for a few hours at a local food bank. How good will you feel when you review your year and know that you shared some of your time to help others! (And maybe furthered your professional learning in the process.)
- Expand your network. Reach out and establish a relationship with an industry influencer. Don’t do this to ask for a job but rather approach it from a mentorship mentality. Ask a mutual colleague to arrange an introduction. Few folks will turn you down if you are trying to learn and working on your professional development but do remain respectful of their time. Start by asking something specific relative to their business (maybe you know they’ve had a speaker or used a supplier you’d like to know about or are a member of an association you are considering joining) but don’t be afraid to ask what advice they might have for you as you develop your career. Keep in mind that a good relationship works two ways so consider how you might bring value to them (do they manage an event at which you could volunteer?).
- Arrive early for meetings…consistently. A short five or ten minutes ahead of time helps to reduce stress and ensures you are focused and relaxed. Good for you and the folks you are meeting with. A small but powerful change.
- Ask a supplier out for lunch or coffee and learn more about what they do. Don’t do it when you are in the throws of an event but rather between times when you can relax. Ask questions…like how could you make things easier for them…or where they see their industry headed. They’ll likely be surprised to be asked but you just may find some new information or ideas that will benefit you both.
- Review and refine your online profiles. Update your picture and your work experience. Employers both current and prospective as well as other industry professionals are sure to review your online presence at some point so put yourself in your best light. Why not make this the year you have a professional picture taken?
- Reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in awhile.Sometimes life gets in the way and we lose track of folks even if we don’t mean to. Reaching out will likely make them happy too…if you know their birthday do it then…it will give you added incentive and is a great way to break the ice if much time has gone by! This is an easy one no matter how busy you are. A phone call or a coffee is great. How nice would it be not to end the year still wondering what they are up to!
- Write at least one hand-written thank you note (if you are not in the habit already). Be sincere and specific. Hand-write the envelope and mail it. Your thoughtfulness and the added care will be very memorable and appreciated by the recipient. As simple as it sounds, and even if you only write one, you will remember doing it. It may be the start of doing it more often and appreciation goes a very long way in business! (as in all areas of life)
I’m sure you can think of dozens more bite-sized efforts that will keep your professional development moving forward (please share) even if you don’t have time for a giant leap. It’s easy to think we are not accomplishing great things just because we can’t get to the big stuff.Seemingly small changes can have just as much impact and feel just as good! And who knows…maybe, all the little accomplishments this year will put you in a position to take on one of the big goals next year!
Happy New Year! Wishing you much success whatever your goals!
EventsWork is the leading job board for event jobs in North America!
Check out the latest jobs here!
Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com
As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.