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.