Thought Leadership: Want to Advance Your Career? Invest in Business Skills

By Anne Caluori

Are you going to participate in the upcoming SHARE Atlanta event, July 31-Aug. 5? If so, you’re probably already planning your schedule and deciding which sessions would be most valuable for you. SHARE has been the go-to source for getting the most current technical information and staying up-to-date on developments in the industry for a very long time, so you will find more technology-focused sessions than you can possibly attend.

Tough as it is to winnow down the session choices on the technical topics to try to fit your schedule, I suggest that you take a look at sessions that help you grow your professional capabilities, which can then be leveraged to open new opportunities for you. For example, do you know what criteria are most frequently called out and used for advancement decisions by senior managers and executives? While developing and maintaining a sharp technical edge is a given, by itself, it may not be enough to guarantee your advancement. Research shows that there are a handful of key factors that can weigh heavily in your favor. "Like what?" you ask. Just keep reading.

Collaborating, AKA works well with others. When project teams are being built, are you recruited early, the last kid picked for the team or a reluctant joiner? Strong and productive collaborations tend to value contributors who interact well with a diverse group of people; stay positive, energetic and goal-focused; are able to listen well and balance confidence with empathy; demonstrate self-awareness and discipline; and have the ethical foundation and grit to persist despite difficulties. The goal is to wrap all those edgy and expert technical capabilities in an easy-to-work-with, Most Valuable Player package.

Networking (people, not electrons!). One of your most powerful resources is the network of connections and relationships that you establish as your career progresses. The breadth of your professional network is often seen as an indication of your engagement with others and willingness to reach out to new disciplines, as well as a sign of creativity and innovative thinking by showing that you recognize the value of diverse perspectives in planning and problem solving. It’s worth noting that in addition to specific sessions that address building your network, one of SHARE’s key values is providing opportunities to interact with industry professionals from all sorts of specialties, industry segments and organizations, whether during sessions, on breaks or at receptions. You might be surprised at the extraordinary range of new contacts you can meet at our conferences and how quickly you can extend your own network.

Communicating. Whether it’s documenting your own work and accomplishments, presenting a key briefing to the senior team in your organization or figuring out how to best exploit social media for your newest project, your abilities to share information are critical to your success. You may be able to generate breakthrough ideas, but without the ability to effectively share them with your coworkers, managers, leadership and customers, nothing will come of them. At SHARE Atlanta, you can brush up on your communication skills, improve your digital sophistication and effectiveness, and maybe even practice a few new techniques that you can put to use back at the shop.

Mentoring: the give and take of experience and expertise. Whether you are the mentor, providing advice and guidance based on your professional experience, or the mentee, working to develop new skills and capabilities, being engaged in the mentoring process is a strong signal to decision makers that you are invested in improving and expanding your strengths and capabilities. Successful mentoring partnerships demonstrate collaboration skills and may also be taken as evidence of commitment and natural leadership.

These are four of the factors most frequently called out that are used by senior decision makers in evaluating candidates for advancement. Why not take a few minutes to think about how you measure up on these indicators and consider investing a little time and energy to sharpen your skills? You can search the conference program using keywords (like “mentoring” or “social media,” for example) or you can jump right into the Professional Skills track.

And if deadlines, schedules, budget constraints and the like are going to prevent you from traveling to join us in Atlanta, you can still participate in SHARE events thanks to the SHARE Live! program. You gain access to hand-picked technical content from the SHARE conference via live webcast or post-event access.

See you in Atlanta!

Anne Caluori’s IT career spanned 30 years of technical support, management and direction of IT units located at multiple operational sites worldwide to support Army and DoD strategic, tactical and sustaining base initiatives. She retired from federal service a few years ago but continues her support as a consultant in the areas of leadership development and organizational learning. She has also been an active volunteer for the SHARE users’ group since 1981, serving in several line positions, as well as on the SHARE Board of Directors as secretary, vice president, director of operations, president and past president. She has received multiple best session awards and president’s awards, as well as the Tish Snow Humanitarian Service award for continued support and mentoring of SHARE volunteers.

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