Like trees age and have rings for every year of life, I have had many rings in my career with lots of twists and turns. I never thought of those rings as representing evolution till I had at least three people mention in the past month how they have loved watching me evolve. I never stopped to think about it from that perspective, but I guess I have. To me it’s always been out of necessity, not necessarily about a strategy and a plan.
My career has taken many twists and turns and at one point I thought I’d screwed things up royally. A bit ADD, I started in sales promotion. Then I left that to join a small design firm. From there I landed in direct marketing learning science and testing. Bored, I jumped to a four person creative boutique that was doing 360 work long before anyone dubbed it “integrated marketing.” The four-person shop grew and was eventually bought landing me at my first “holding company” job. That was short-lived because holding companies tend to merge and annihilate their purchases. Off I went to start a below-the-line division of a medium sized traditional agency. Frustrated by an uninvolved partner I left for an offer I couldn’t refuse at a big, global agency. When they cleaned out the c-suite, I found myself out on the street for the first time ever–scared to death. But I landed a freelance job at a social media company and just never left so they hired me. And now I’m at a media company overseeing marketing and PR and keeping MOMentumNation going on the side. It’s been a very wild ride. So I suppose people, if they were keeping track, would say I “evolved.”
But evolution is important. Otherwise you aren’t keeping up with your industry. And if you don’t, you are probably looking for employment.
I think are the four keys to success in your evolution.
Hard work: very few people get things handed to them. You have to put in the effort. And if you work hard, you get a reputation for working hard. Your reputation goes with you everywhere you go. Be a doer. Get things done. Make that part of who you are synonymous with who you are as an employee.
Networking: be out there online and offline networking. We all hit occasional blips in our careers, but building a network is your safety net particularly if you ever lose your job. But it’s also important to connecting you to the right people, right companies and keeping your name out there.
Constant challenges and learning: if you’re stagnant in learning or in your job then it’s time to make a leap even if it’s scary. A bored employee doesn’t produce like a happy one. Learn social media. Take one platform at a time and learn it. It will help keep you current.
Thought leadership: make sure you are taking advantage of the world we live in. Use LinkedIn and write a blog. Learn social media if you don’t already have some knowledge. Take one platform at a time and learn it. It will help keep you current. And most importantly, it will keep you visible.
Whatever you, you need to evolve as hard as it might seem.