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Sunday, 23 November 2008

How to Water-Proof Your Career in Stormy Weather

Written by Susan Tomlinson
The newspapers shout 'credit crunch' and the grey clouds gather ever more. It's hard not to feel anxious about the gloomy forecasts. But there are alternative outlooks other than the ostrich approach or extreme belt tightening. It's not all grey clouds.

Last month at an annual gathering of over 150 international female bankers held at one of the world's largest financial institutions the mood in the room was benign resignation. Many declared that the threat of redundancy offered more opportunities than it did bad omens. Getting up at 5am for 12 hour days of number crunching holds little appeal when a redundancy package promises a crossroads of change and opportunity.

Boom Not Doom: If you are not so optimistic in these "interesting times" then how do you hold on to your job or maximize the impact you are making within the role? Confidence on so many levels now is key to success.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your impact in the here and the now.

Networking - The power of connection means that you become part of a linked community of support and knowledge. Network not just horizontally across your department but vertically too. Gaining connections in high places means you will get noticed as you familiarise yourself with the next level of your company's structure.

Be A Brand - Knowing your strengths, values and skills so that you feel confident in your role. Imagine writing a description of yourself as others see you. What would it say? Are you a social fulcrum, a "fix-it", a safe pair of hands, forensic, a powerhouse of ideas? Start to "own" your brand and be it at all times.

Look The Part - If you are of the old school of thought that subscribes to the edict that it's brains not looks that count then you may need to re-write your own rule book. How you look will influence other's perception of you. Being smart, well-groomed and wearing clothes that are appropriate and with a contemporary cut sends out a message of professionalism, gravitas and confidence. If your look is tired, dated and threadbare you win no points for guessing how people will view your ability regardless of your skills.

Speak Up - Please note, you serve no one by playing small and hiding your brilliance so that others shine. There are scores of talented and gifted employees who are weary of being over-looked for promotion and whose input is never respected or considered simply because they are too scared to speak up in meetings. Yes, often empty vessels do make the most noise. But for how much longer are you prepared to wait so that the noisiest get their opinions heard while your brilliance remains hidden and unnoticed?

Have A Vision - So many people claim that they have "just drifted" into their current position. What about having a career that you love that you have chosen with meaning and purpose? Time to have a plan, a vision for the future. What would it look like? Where do you want to be in 5 years time? What are you doing today to get you there?

There is no time like the present, regardless of what the headlines are telling us, to make the most of now. That means maximising your potential, positioning yourself with purpose on a path that feels right for you, so that you will be well placed to thrive and grow when the storm has passed.

Susan Tomlinson provides bepoke solutions to help managers and leaders achieve success at work. Get her valuable tips and resources and the workbook "Speaking for Success" at http://www.realcoachingsolutions.co.uk/productsandservices/success.htm

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