Leveraging Your Network and Discovering What Matters Most in Your Career

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced much self-assessment among those dealing with loss of work or isolation. In two new reports, RevelOne provides insights into how to steer one’s career in the right direction. The first reveals the true value of networking. The second helps job seekers get in touch with what matters most to them in their career.

May 20, 2020 – For many, these days of self-quarantine and work-from-home have allowed more time for self-reflection and consideration of how best to advance one’s career. Two of the pillars of getting to the place one wants to be professionally are networking and understanding what matters most to you in your work. RevelOne, a specialized marketing recruiting and strategy firm in Denver, CO, recently delved into these key areas in separate reports.

In the first, “Your Network is Your Competitive Advantage,” RevelOne offered insights on how to leverage your network to get advice, develop marketing skills and boost your chances of finding your next job. “Don’t go it alone,” said RevelOne. “People with a team around them are more nimble, learn faster and are happier. They are also less likely to make major mistakes by learning from others.”

Why build a network?

1) Immediate Tactical Support – Your network can be used for timely feedback on key decisions such as reviewing new campaign tactics, avoiding common mistakes, selecting the best vendors, and, in general, creating a space where you have the freedom to ask “dumb” questions, said RevelOne.

2) Skill Development – Learn best practices from peers and bring creative ideas into your work by seeing how other professionals approach problems in different industries.

3) Secret Weapon for Job Hunting – Your network can also be used as a sounding board for roles and comp. When you are ready to move, your network can be a source of intelligence and intros to other companies.

Who Should Be in Your Network?

You should have a broad, “outer ring” of people in your network that you meet at work, conferences, and through your professional network, said RevelOne. You can easily keep up with this broader group via social media.

“We think it’s also worth consciously developing and investing in a narrower inner ring of people that you think of as your advisory network,” said Revel One. This generally includes up to 20 people that fall into one of three buckets:

1) Peers – People in similar roles and professional levels are a great resource. They can include colleagues within your own company and some from outside, who bring a different perspective and allow you to be a little more candid and ask “dumb questions.” You should also seek out contacts in different roles or channels where you can learn from each other or identify new areas or skills of personal interest that you want to develop.

2) Mentors/Managers – These are professionals that are senior to you and may include a former boss or someone in your field that you met through a conference. Many senior professionals find mentoring rewarding and an important part of their own careers. If you reach out politely and establish a cadence that is respectful of their time, you’d be surprised how often people are up for it. You can also go a bit broader by engaging on LinkedIn / Twitter or an outreach email with thinkers or leaders you admire in your area.

“The people who knew you when” – This is a broader category that is less about business networking and more about perspective on your personal goals and mission. It might include friends from childhood, college roommates, or even more recent friends that you met in a non-work related context. This group is meant to bring wide-ranging perspectives on who you are via some grounding in your past or a view of who you are beyond the confines of the tech/business world. They keep you honest about bigger issues that are important to you, and they are more likely to call hogwash when they see it.

How to Keep in Touch

“We’re all busy, so we have to invest in keeping in touch,” said RevelOne. “You should think about keeping a list of your core network and making sure you communicate every quarter or two. If you are the super-structured type, you can use your calendar or a tool like Asana to build a cycle of staying in touch. Mix up your contact strategy with coffee meetings, a phone call, or just an email update.”

10 Tips for Networking with Executive Recruiters During COVID-19
Now more than ever, search firms can be a great help to professionals seeking a new role. The key is to come prepared, says Dave Westberry of BridgeStreet Partners. Be genuine, have a polished resume, and be knowledgeable about the recruiter you are approaching. Others search leaders chime in as well from Bowdoin Group, NPAworldwide, and Frazier Jones.

In its second report, “What Really Matters to You in Your Career?” RevelOne provides some important questions for job seekers to consider.

Said RevelOne: “Are you making career decisions based on what’s really important to you, or are you playing it safe? Do your personal values drive your priorities or are you overly influenced by what others think?”

“You’ve probably been to a party where you talked to someone you barely knew about your job,” said the firm. “Did you have a feeling of pride or an insecure twist in your gut? That person might walk away and never think about you again, so why does someone else’s perceived reaction affect us this way?”

Related: Top Hurdles for Finding and Retaining Top Talent

When we haven’t thought about what really makes us happy, we default to chasing titles, status or money, and we’re more likely to worry about the reactions of others, said RevelOne. This often leads to a nagging sense that we’re not on a fulfilling path.

To understand what really matters to you, think about the bigger questions. RevelOne offered a few big picture resources that will be a good starting point:

1) “Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best frameworks we’ve seen for orienting yourself around what’s important to you and the ‘circle of control’ that you can impact,” said the firm.

2) Mr. Covey actually takes a lot from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the 20th Century’s most important books on finding meaning in one’s life, said RevelOne. “It’s an intense read as Frankl shares his harrowing experience in the Holocaust, but you’ll come away inspired by his empowering vision around how every individual can find meaning in focusing on what they can control in themselves and their response to any situation,” said the firm.

3) Dan Pink’s Drive talks about what psychology has learned about intrinsic motivation and how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are its most important components.

RevelOne also provided a career self-assessment guide, which includes pragmatic career questions and possible answers to consider:

1) What motivates you most in a job?

  • Solving complex problems and learning new skills
  • Working with smart people
  • Autonomy
  • Making money – this could be about financial security, goals you have for your family, funds to start your own thing, or future flexibility.
  • Working at a company whose mission is inspiring to you or whose product is personally relevant.

2) What are your superpowers?

  • Think about your strengths. Where do you excel most? Other people can be a source of good intel on this simply by paying attention to the compliments they give you. For example, what strengths come up repeatedly in your performance reviews? What do your colleagues come to you for help with?
  • We often focus on “fixing” our weaknesses, but this may not be the best strategy for either contentment or effectiveness. Research has shown that we are better off leaning into our strengths and where we can be exceptional, rather than investing energy in improving our weaker skills.

3) What kinds of roles and activities made you happiest?

  • Which roles or projects do you enjoy most? What activities move you toward that “flow” state where time flies and it doesn’t feel like work?

Related: Recruiters Beware: Treat Candidates Better or Risk Steering Them Away as Future Employees and Customers

  • What kind of work had the opposite effect, and felt like a grind or a drain of energy on you?
  • When were you chugging coffee to get through a project? Is it digging into data or technology, or doing creative work involving language, messaging, or visuals?
  • Do you like working individually with well-defined task ownership and a hands-off mentality? Or do you prefer working in a team that is fully collaborative with looser lines drawn?
  • What size company or team resonates with you? Do you enjoy smaller teams and projects that are in a formative stage? Do you like knowing everyone and having more fluid, broad roles? Do you like being scrappy with limited resources but having the opportunity to tinker and experiment with something entirely new?

What Workers Want: Career Development Tops the List
Developing one’s career seems to be an important factor in people’s lives as 64 percent of the global respondents would consider emigrating to improve their career along with their work-life balance, according a Randstad Workmonitor study. Fifty-nine percent said they are willing to emigrate for a substantially higher salary and 54 percent in order to have a meaningful career.

  • Or, do you like larger, more developed environments where the group’s output is much bigger? Do you like scaling and optimizing something that already exists and has data to analyze? Do you enjoy having the resources for leverage and doing things more thoughtfully? Do you like the breadth of a larger org, with a wider range of people to interact with?

4) Do you like to be more of a specialist or generalist?

  • Do you like going deep into a topic and becoming an expert? Do you enjoy mastery in a topic area where people come to you for answers? Do you want to progress by running a team in that function?
  • Or, do you quickly get bored in a given subject matter area and crave diversity? Do you like the feeling of being out of your comfort zone in a new topic and having to figure it out? Are you comfortable NOT being an expert while making connections between disparate areas?

“These questions are meant to tap into your authentic reactions to help you understand exactly what makes you happy in your career,” said RevelOne. “You can test opportunities against these factors and they may point you in the direction of trying a new type of role or environment.”

Related: Elite Talent: Why Do They Leave?

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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