Just because the "New Year" feeling may be starting to fade, doesn't mean your resolutions need to lose steam.
Here are a few tips to make sure you keep the momentum going for 2016 and finish strong in your career goals.
1) Expand Your Network, But in a Targeted Way.
The internet and mobile economy has made the world much closer. It's never been easier to connect to folks that share your interests, goals, and mission. But with that, it's also been much easier to clutter your network with connections that don't add value or purpose.
Make sure to do a connection audit, for example if your goal is to get a new job in design work, then you might want to follow a few creative design boards on Pinterest, while cutting out a few of your LinkedIn groups that message you about past interests on which you are no longer spending time.
You may also consider joining a few new Meetups like this new one for DC Careerists. While it's okay to have multiple interests in different spaces, it's best if they are mutually supportive and few, which will help you move into our next step below.
2) Develop Your Specialty.
Companies, especially startups, are more and more looking to hire candidates with multiple skill sets. But this by no means, means that you should not brand yourself as a specialist in a particular field. While a new company might say they are looking for a "jack of all trades", it's actually really hard to identify one. You can set yourself apart by having a specialty with supporting skills.
For example, imagine a great developer with sales and marketing experience that also does PR work and can manage your accounting books. Where do you start this person? What if designing a website is more important to the hiring company than the accounting side? Chances are you've already forgotten one of this person's skills even though it was just a few sentences ago.
Use this time of your 2016 to look at your skill sets and see where you would like to focus and/or bolster your professional skills this year. Organizations like General Assembly are a good resource to take a few training courses that will really define you as a specialist, which is a great segue into our next step.
3) give your Professional Brand a test drive.
After you have identified what your specialty is (or will be), test it out in your network to see if it holds up. Try the following activity: Ask 3 of your friends, 3 of your family members, and 3 people in your professional network what you do for a living. Chances are, if you are like most people, you'll find some pretty humorous material. Oftentimes even your current/former coworkers in other departments may not have a clear definition.This can be for a number of reasons, but ultimately it boils down to how you communicate your value to others. Your elevator pitch of who are and an example of what you do is key.
For example, if you are a PR consultant for public policy organizations, you might be able to say something like: "I help organizations educate the public about changes in health policy. Basically I'm the Olivia Pope of the healthcare industry." Sure you can give them a huge, dry, bulleted breakdown of what exactly this means, but chances are if the person you are talking to isn't in that industry then they will soon forget anyway. You want to make it memorable and easily repeatable. This will add much value to you when these people can refer new contacts to you.
Also, this is now the time to start branding yourself as a thought leader. Remember that specialty you picked for yourself? Well that is what you want to build your brand around. Try to connect to organizations that need this expertise (organizations are always looking for speakers for their events). Or if you aren't the public speaking type, publish a few articles on LinkedIn around topics related to your specialty.
4) Don't Do It Alone!
Perhaps the most powerful thing you can do to energize the rest of your path toward your 2016 career goals is to bring others with you. Reach into your close network of friends or colleagues and build a small support team that can help one another reach their goals. These people's goal is to hold one another accountable to whatever your goals are throughout the year. Even if it's just something as simple as calling or emailing to check in to say "Hey, Mike! Hope all is well. Just checking to see if you made that move to London you were trying to make. I came across this job opening there you should check out. They're looking for an Olivia Pope!"
Everyone is looking for a mutually beneficial relationship, as you give back, your network will give back to you. Whether it's forwarding a great article you read that you think lays within their interest, or referring them to great new career opportunities, the more value you add to your network, the more you get out in return.
Add these great few tips to your 2016 and you can bet that 2017 will be even more momentous.