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Staying Relevant in the Workplace

What does ”staying relevant” mean? In these days of outsourcing, cost-cutting and continuous radical shifts in the ways companies produce, communicate and interact, not to mention source candidates, it is crucial you remain attuned to demands, trends and developments in the marketplace and fine-tune your qualifications and skillset accordingly and fast enough. Some simple pointers to help you formulate a framework for this:-

1. Understand the dynamics of the industry you operate in: Myopia serves no one. If you are too busy for instance poring over data sheets day in and day out in the exact same manner you have done for years you may miss out on the fact that competitor companies have largely outsourced a key segment of their CRM systems for example, or imported new CRM systems that are far more efficient, or redefined standards and parameters for measurement and monitoring completely. Keep your eyes and ears open to developments both in your company and out so you are in the best position to understand if your own modus operandi is optimal and sustainable. Try to always understand the big picture not just your own particular set of tasks as the latter may be defined and redefined by factors that may be outside your control. Remember it’s not just about competency, it’s about optimal performance and purely ”competent” players are always in danger of being outshone and even rendered redundant by professionals who have maximized efficiency, optimized performance and somehow carved a niche by raising, or better still, redefining the bar.

2. Be a lifelong learner: Seek to embrace learning in all its dimensions and embrace it as a lifestyle. Learn by seeing, by doing, by reading, by taking physical and online courses, by asking questions and talking to people, by experimenting and innovating, learn by whatever means are at your disposal and in whatever learning method you prefer. Aim to stay ahead of the literature in your industry and pick up books that motivate and inspire you and benefit you in your overall career and general well-being. Share your learnings with others at the workplace and in your peer circles to entrench your reputation as an expert in your field and become acknowledged as a valuable resource for other professionals in the company and out. According to a Q22011 Bayt.com study required to succeed in one’s career. Respondents were also asked if they thought reading relevant literature regularly was important for their career advancement and a good69.6% stated that it was extremely important with77.8% revealing they read their industry related literature on a regular basis.

3. Be flexible: Don’t be afraid of implementing what you learn and experimenting with new ideas. At a minimum you should improve your productivity and performance. Even better would be if you can truly innovate. Innovation requires firstly the willpower, courage and flexibility to try new things, secondly, the knowledge, research and analysis to adapt the experimentation to the needs of the marketplace plus the company’s own objectives, and finally the professionalism, energy and communication skills to get internal and external buy-in for the change. Seismic shifts in the way companies do business partially attributable to advances in the internet (and the increased sharing and connectivity this has enabled) have brought home the need to innovate or to very quickly adapt to innovations in the industry effected by others, or else risk being rendered obsolete. As Ketan J Patel notes in his book ’The Master Strategist’: “To win in the field is inferior to transforming the field. Which is inferior to moving to a better field. Which is inferior to not being in the field”.

4. Work on your public professional brand: If you don’t have a CV and/or parked on your region’s leading jobsite you may be missing out on key opportunities. Remember the objective of a public professional brand is to get you noticed by the region’s employers and also by clients and peers so make sure you choose the best platform to position your personal band and make sure it is truly professional and is always updated to reflect your latest skills, experience and qualifications. If you are not visible in relevant circles and if your public profile is not accurate and attractive you may well risk not being in the running for top jobs in your industry and other lucrative career opportunities.

5. Network: Yes we have all repeatedly heard that in today’s career world ”who” we know and the quality of our relationships are as important as ”what” we know. A Bayt.com online study in Q22011 revealed that for enhancing career growth. Try to maintain an active presence in relevant circles whether you are attending industry events, exhibitions, conferences, forums, courses or even socializing with peers in the industry in a format you find comfortable and conducive to constructive exchange. You can network with like-minded professionals physically and also online. You will make good friendships, remain top-of-mind in the right groups and also pick up valuable fresh business pointers and insights which should serve you well in your own role. Networking is a skill like any other and if you are the shy retiring type you need only do a bit of online browsing to pick up some essential tips on effective networking and find a networking style and strategy and comfort level that suits you.