Over the last seven months I’ve started a marketing communications consultancy. This personally and professionally rewarding experience has transformed the way I approach my career and the rapidly changing field of marketing communications.
Here are some takeaways:
1. Hustle. Whether you own a successful business or have a pretty steady gig, you can’t afford to get complacent about your career. A good approach is to think about your career as an entrepreneur would approach a business, and never take anything for granted.
2. Make a plan. Creating a mission, vision, and values statement can help you focus on your unique strengths and distinguish you in the marketplace. Conduct a SWOT, and draft a plan that will help align your skills to marketplace demands. Create goals and objectives for your career and a road map for how you’re going to reach them. You can alter your path as necessary, but your mission, vision, and values should steer your course.
3. Grow your network. LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and other social media sites offer powerful opportunities to connect with thought leaders and peers. Professional associations such as the International Association of Business Communicators, the American Marketing Association, and the Canadian Marketing Association run networking and educational events. The choices are limited only by your time and means.
4. Take risks. What opportunities are available? What are you willing to risk in order to succeed? Although you should understand your own risk tolerance before you undertake any new ventures, you should also aim to push yourself out of your comfort zone, as this is where real professional and personal growth occurs.
5. Invest in yourself. Continually assess which investments you should make in yourself in order to succeed. What are the time, effort, and cost involved? What is realistic in terms of your personal obligations and work/life balance? There is a dizzying array of education and networking opportunities out there, so make sure your decisions are strategic and align with your plan.
6. Ask for support. Family, friends, professional networks, and mentors can be valuable sources of objective advice and support. Don’t be afraid to reach out beyond your network, both online and in person.
7. Don’t fear failure. If we never experience failure, we can’t fully enjoy or appreciate our successes. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to develop a thick skin and not take things personally. As entrepreneur Michael Dearing explained recently in The New York Times:
“I thought I had one shot to be successful. I had no idea that my career—or anybody’s career—is actually a multiround process and that you had many, many at-bats.” (Following Your Bliss, Right Off the Cliff. The New York Times. March 25, 2013)
What key lessons have you learned that you can pass on to others? Please share your own experiences here and add to the list.
This article first appeared on Melanie Simons’s blog.