This Week in Positive Change Management : Getting out of the Middle

01182016 No More Middle

This is the time of your when people start looking at how they can have a better New year than last year. Oftentimes, receiving a promotion is at the top of the list. Well, there are certain things that are holding you back. I have four tips that you will get out of the middle and ascend up the corporate ladder.

Focus on your brand and not just a job

Unbeknownst to me, I focused on my brand early and I professionally benefitted from this. When you define your personal career brand, I looked at how my transferrable skills fit in with other positions. It is an egregious error to only identify yourself as your job. This is dangerous because you become confided to that box. Had I been so narrow to only economic jobs, I would still be a GS-11 economist. Once a layoff hits, then you are through. Identifying your transferable skills repositions yourself as a brand because you can work in other areas.  Your career brand transcends your job.

Obtain certification

Certification distinguishes you from the rest. Take my field, project management for example. Earning your PMP certification separates you from everyone else. PMP requires a certain amount of work experience. You don’t see many young or middle-tier professionals with PMP certifications. Furthermore, obtaining certification means that you are a self-starter. This gets you noticed internally and externally.

Expand your network vertically

The one reason why you’re stuck is because all of your networking friends are at the same level. You know everyone you’ve started with me but nobody one or two levels above you. That’s horizontal networking and that’s problematic when you truly want to advance. Find a professional organization and attend the formal functions (Christmas party, annual charity ball, etc.). These events have the board members and senior officials. Once they know your name, they can become your mentors and sponsors guiding your career upward.

Get out of career inertia

I broke out of career inertia by leaving my first fed agency. I saw career inertia upfront. I left my economist position to grow. Although disgruntled, many coworkers stayed because they were comfortable. Now this year, my formal agency is moving out of state. Those same coworkers are going right along with the agency even though they hate leaving DC. Career inertia sneaks up on you. You start getting comfortable then make excuses for your fear. Getting out of the middle means putting yourself in motion.

These four tips will help you lay the groundwork towards realizing this year’s career ambitions.

Change is Messy!

12292015 Change is Messy

Change is messy. It really is. A lot of people want change in their personal and professional lives but want it to be nice and neat. Well, that’s not how change works. It is like growth. You cannot grow without some pains. Change is inevitable. It happens whether we are ready or not. This year is no exception. Here are four examples of changes that I have occurred this year and what I’ve learned from them.

Writing for LinkedIn Pulse

I am the first to admit that fear has kept me from writing for LinkedIn Pulse. There are so many ‘experts’ out there that I am thinking that I am disqualified. The turning point comes when I start seeing very bad posts with people misspelling words and writing crazy stuff. That’s when I realize that my material cannot be any worse than the bulk of what’s out there; and, I am right! My posts have been welcomed in my community. Also I have pushed myself to write insightful and educational articles benefitting people instead of trying to hawk merchandise (I mean at least give me a free sample chapter of your book!).  What I have learned about becoming a writer is that LinkedIn Pulse is always a great place to share ideas. I have broken my own rule of only posting once a week because I have so much knowledge to share. I post whenever I have a new idea or topic I wish to share. This platform has also let me promote my radio show which I love because it enables me to pursue another avenue of communication.

My radio show

I have been wanting to do a radio show since September. I love communicating and sharing information with people. Although there have been some false starts and people who think that I shouldn’t do it, I now have my own show. I have decided to go through Blogtalkradio because I see so many others use this platform. Here I’m thinking that all I have to do is create a Blogtalkradio page, talk into my phone’s video recorder and upload it onto my page like Soundcloud.

Wrong! Blogtalkradio is live not prerecorded so even if I do have my prerecorded audio, I still have to sit there at the appointed time and be in the studio. Also I learn that the system doesn’t take .m4a files forcing me to broadcast live. I admit that I still prerecord myself to hear how I sound before going on air. Furthermore, the hardest part is the planning. Radio takes work. I need to devise an interesting topic. I select a blog article then jot down points.

Developing a coaching network

I can be an introvert and I admit that right now my five closest people are all coaches. I am very singular in that respect because I have always relied on my intuition. Whether something is working well or not, I always conduct these self-checks where I evaluate my situation using my intuition. If something is going right, I ask myself how do I continue it going? If it not going right then how do I change it? This year, I have reached out to coaches in areas where I want to grow. I have a career coach, brand coach and business coach. I have even reached out and started seeking financial advice because I have landed my second six-figure job. Coaching has helped me improve my professional network. I have received important feedback.

I will admit that there have been some very rough patches with coaching. I have had some programs and masterminds haven’t panned out. In particular, I have to shell out my own money to do my website when I am supposed to go through the preselected website designer. I later learn after coming out of my own pocket that the leader has stopped referring clients to the designer.

Attending Conferences

This year I have decided to attend conferences outside of DC to expand my professional networking beyond the District and Cleveland. I have attended the Power Networking Conference in Dallas, the Periscope Summit in New York and the TCE Conference in Norfolk. I have acquired a whole lot of personal and professional knowledge that will aid me in my future. For instance, I have developed a new travel regimen, improved my elevator pitch, burnished my LinkedIn profile, and developed my own personal website (this is my virtual business card). Attending these conferences have made me step up my game because I know that I am capable of much more. Getting outside of the District, lets me see how other professionals conduct businesses at the national and global levels. It is quite eye-opening when you get out of your own bubble and see how others operate. The Periscope Summit stands out because this is the first one. You are literally on the ground floor seeing everything unravel in front of you. It is very much like a start-up and the backdrop is New York City. Hey, if I can survive there, I can survive anywhere.

What I have learned is to always be ready and not to fall prey to sales pitches. You aren’t obligated to purchase anything from the vendors. It’s all about your fit and your future vision. Remember, it’s your money. You’ve paid to attend the conference not the vendors. Another thing that I have learned is to develop a better system in order to get to the next level.

Here are my four examples of how change can be messy; yet, in each situation I have managed to learn new things that will help me in the future.