Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: Will My Boss Think I Am Looking for a Job?

When you work to raise your visibility in your industry, many of you may feel you are at risk of creating an impression with your boss that you are looking for a new job opportunity. Many industry events are advertised as networking events where you meet colleagues from within your industry. Your boss may feel that you will meet a new colleague who will lure you away to a new opportunity with promises of wealth and fame.

The best way to minimize this perception is to always be engaging with industry associations, not just when you urgently need to do so. What is the impact of engaging with an industry association proactively versus reactively? In the early stages of the banking crisis that reached its peak in 2009, an area of interest for banking regulators was a financial institution’s record retention program, and specifically, the bank’s strategy for shredding information. If the financial institution had a long-standing record retention program which included a shredding schedule (proactive), the bank regulators applauded them. If the financial institution did not have a records retention program and suddenly began shredding information upon the arrival of the regulators (reactive), the regulators eviscerated them.

What lesson can you apply to your participation in industry associations? If you are a recurring member of your industry, your attendance at an industry conference or your participation at an industry meeting will not raise suspicion. But, if you suddenly start to participate at industry meetings, your boss will become suspicious. By always participating, you do not create distracting or unfounded suspicions.

Another example of proactive versus reactive behavior exists within LinkedIn. Nothing will arouse the suspicion of your boss faster than a sudden increase in your frequency of updating your LinkedIn profile (even if you turn off the public notification functionality). Had you always had an updated profile (proactive), your updates would seem like a natural and recurring behavior. A sudden surge in updates on your LinkedIn profile due to being passed over for a promotion (reactive) will draw suspicion faster than a cat with a mouth full of feathers standing next to an empty birdcage.

Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: Always Have Business Cards

I attended a team coaching conference in Washington D.C. for four days this past week. When I got to the conference, I realized I had forgotten to bring business cards. It was a big miss!

Even business leaders who talk about the importance of raising your visibility can forget business cards now and again. Keep in mind that business cards are not for you; they are for the other person you are meeting. Even if you hate having them, business cards are the most professional way to share your contact information with a new colleague, prospect, or business acquaintance.

There are two simple things you must do to ensure that you always have business cards for every meeting and conference you attend:

  • Ensure you have business cards in your wallet or purse. Regardless of what you wear each day, you almost always have your purse or wallet. Prior to my trip to D.C., I removed my business cards from my wallet as I was interviewing a handful of people for a client’s 360 assessment and I wanted to give each of them a business card. I forgot to put them back in my wallet. Big miss!
  • Ensure you have a supply of business cards in your car, luggage, and briefcase. Since you almost always travel with one or more of these, you will always have a back-up supply of business cards when you need them. You should keep them in a small plastic sandwich bag to keep them clean. I did not do this prior to my trip to D.C., even though I used both my luggage and my briefcase. Another big miss!

So, avoid these big misses. Ensure you always have access to a supply of your business cards and you will never be empty handed.

Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: Reasons to Engage With Your Industry

It is important to think about and identify your reasons to engage with your industry. Engaging with your industry without a compelling reason will not be sufficient to muster the energy, support, and time needed to do so. You can engage with your industry for a variety of reasons including the following:

  • Identify talent. Due to changing demographics, the employment marketplace continues to be highly competitive. Your organization’s fast-changing technologies make some skills instantly obsolete, and some skills inordinately valuable. Your organization’s fast-changing business model requires talent in new locations across the globe. Your organization’s strategic growth demands that a talent pipeline exist at all times, not just when a need arises. While talent is easier to find due to technological advances (i.e., resume readers) and social media (i.e., LinkedIn), talent is harder to land as everyone else is using the same technology and social media tools. Industry associations provide rich reserves of talent that you can tap to help you and your organization fill the pipeline. Some of these individuals may be between jobs, while others are actively and happily employed. Regardless of their status, you will meet many experienced colleagues who can fill current or future needs through industry associations.
  • Hear best practices. Industry associations provide services to their members that focus on building community, providing education, and creating opportunity though:
    • Meetings. Industry associations host member meetings on a recurring basis. These meetings may include opportunities to raise your visibility with colleagues, discussions regarding the industry, or presentations by industry experts.
    • Workshops and Webinars. Industry associations host workshops and webinars for members, usually with an external speaker or facilitator, to help members build their skills and learn new information.
    • Panels. Industry associations host panel presentations comprised of industry leaders (maybe you!) to share information and create dialogue.
    • Conferences. Industry associations host one- to three-day conferences designed to bring together thought leaders and vendors to showcase the very best the industry has to offer. The downside is that industry conferences are usually located at beautiful destinations, held in gorgeous conference centers, and surrounded by luxurious accommodations. Not a bad downside.
  • Introduce best practices. Perhaps you are attending an industry event during the workday. Perhaps your organization has paid for your industry association dues or registration fees. If you are attending industry events where information is being shared, it is expected that you introduce best practices back at your workplace that will help your organization achieve its goals. If you don’t share what you are experiencing at an industry event with your boss or introduce best practices to your organization, your boss may begin to question the value of your participation. Many of your colleagues have heard about how to implement a Six Sigma process improvement, how to integrate changes to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and how to transition to a WordPress website at an industry meeting. Hearing about these best practices is interesting – introducing them back to your organization is priceless.
  • Meet experts. You have a lot going on at your organization, and a key asset to accelerating your progress is meeting someone who has already done what you are doing. Whatever you are attempting to introduce or implement at your organization, there is someone who has “been there, done that.” Industry associations are fantastic places to meet colleagues who can provide you valuable insights, compelling lessons, and meaningful recommendations to ensure your success. In some cases, the experience of a colleague pays for your membership many times over.
  • Demonstrate openness. Your fast-paced organization demands your attention and effort 100% of the time, but your fast-paced industry also makes it challenging to stay current. By engaging with your industry, you demonstrate to your internal clients and colleagues that you are not satisfied with the status quo. If you want to keep your organization on the cutting edge, you have to stay sharp. Industry associations are a great place to sharpen your edge.
Ed Evarts

Raise Your Visibility & Value: What are the Reasons to Engage with Industry Associations?

There are a number of reasons to engage with industry associations in your effort to raise your visibility. As Chief Executive Officer of NEHRA, the largest human resources association in the Northeast with over 2,000 members, Tracy Burns knows firsthand how industry association engagement can raise your visibility, positively impacting you and your career. “It is very clear to me that the key differentiator for professional success today is building relationships with colleagues you meet through industry associations,” says Tracy. “I have seen dozens of highly-qualified human resources professionals who don’t know what is going on in the industry, don’t stay current on best practices, and, quite frankly, don’t know their colleagues.

I took a different route. By engaging with industry associations early in my career, I benefited in endless ways. Through my relationships with colleagues, I’ve been connected to job, teaching, and speaking opportunities, introduced to my master’s program, and provided invaluable professional advice – on and off the record! By engaging with industry associations, I always felt that I had career options.”

It is important to think about and identify your reasons to engage with your industry. Engaging with your industry without a compelling reason will not be sufficient to muster the energy, support, and time needed to do so. You can engage with your industry for a variety of reasons including the following:

  • Identify talent.
  • Hear best practices.
  • Introduce best practices.
  • Meet experts.
  • Demonstrate openness.