A long time friend shared with me they woke up one morning with one of the most clairvoyant thoughts they had had in quite some time: “I’ve gone stale in my career.”
I was surprised to hear this from my friend as they’re very successful at what they do. Upon further conversation I learned that my friend admittedly was recognizing that while he was and is successful in his respective career today there are two things he’s not done much of, or at all which inevitably will hurt him and his career down the road.
#1: building relationships both in and outside his circle of influence
#2: be proactive with #1
He asked me what my thoughts were on his situation and how best to re-ignite his career. My answer: NETWORKING! People who networking and do so often know two truths about business. One – many times it’s not what you know but who you know. Two – being proactive in building relationships and helping others means you stay ahead of the ‘need game’.
The ‘need game’ is when people decide to change their habits professionally because they ‘need’ something. The most common occurrence of this is when someone finds themselves out of work and they decide to start networking, going to 5+ events a week. Their end goal isn’t really to network and help others, it’s to help themselves get another job. You can’t blame people in the situation however they’re going about it all wrong.
When we’re actively working and doing well this is the exact time we should be investing in our careers and others, not when we need something. The proactive investment of networking doesn’t pay off quickly, in fact it can take years, however some of the best opportunities have opened up to me and many others I know simply because we were in the right place and had the right connections.
Key Take Away: if you want to ignite your career and refresh yourself professionally get out of the office and get involved in your industry and or local community. The people you meet along the way will give you the opportunity to create new relationships within and outside your circle of influence. These relationships can be the key to opportunities in the future.
Action Items: Spend some time talking with other professionals inside and outside your industry to learn where they spend their time. Identify 2-3 networking or professional associations and attend their events. Just remember – if you go into it expecting to get something you’re doing it all wrong. Go into these events with the idea you are going to learn, give back and build relationships. The rest will happen over time. If you’re in the life sciences industry you can check out HERE for a list of Southern California based events.
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.
Travis also serves as Chairman, Board of Directors for DeviceAlliance, the only Southern California based medical device non-profit professionals organization and member of the University of California Irvine's Division of Continuing Education Advisory Board for Medical Product Development. He holds a business management degree from California State University Long Beach and is a graduate of the Southern California Entrepreneur Academy.