Sunday, August 11, 2013

7 Career Tips for Association Professionals (and Others)

Last week, the Agricultural Media Summit invited me to speak (as part of a panel) on the topic of Creating Drama in Act III of Your Career. The session was designed to share insights for mid career professionals or others who might be in a job transition.

After briefly outlining my career path (journalist, public relations, association staffer, AMC owner, consultant/speaker/blogger), I offered seven tips or themes:

  1. It is their organization not yours but it is your career not their’s. So, when issues surface, you should think about yourself and your career.
  2. Be prepared ... your opportunity for a 2nd career may come before you expect it. I’ve seen so many professionals (including myself) that really weren’t prepared when their position went away.
  3. When it comes to finding your next position, the old saying that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is not totally accurate. I discovered that WHO knows YOU is even more important.
  4. Build an audience before you need it:
    • Social media followers: Twitter; LinkedIn; Facebook
    • Early warning your members, employer or prospects. I know one association CEO who has Google News Alerts for each of his member companies. When he finds good news, he emails them a congratulatory note. When he finds “bad” news, he emails them a note asking if they had seen it. He tells me he gets extremely positive responses from his members. 
  5. Be a topic expert ... and use blogs, tweets, power points and talks to brand yourself.
  6. Start with WHY!
    • What drives YOU? Follow your passion!
  7. Know who & what you are: 
    • in my case, I started by asking myself “am I an association guy working in agriculture” or “am I an ag guy working in associations?” Early on, I answered that I was an association professional.
By the way, listening to one of the other panelists reminded me of an eighth tip

    8.  Be flexible. A new opportunity may arise in places you least expect.

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