How professionally relevant are you? In the eyes of co-workers, colleagues, investors, stakeholders and clients?
Most often, the story of your professional relevance showcases the story of how proactive and anticipatory you are to the voiced, and unvoiced, needs of everyone you serve.
So, how would you rate yourself, in terms of professional relevance? Are you the organizational go-to resource for: making things happen, industry trends, collaboration, innovation?
Your professional relevance depends on being visible, relevant and valuable beyond the boundaries of your professional discipline, job title, pay grade, level of education and generation.
Three factors contribute to becoming more professionally relevant.
First, your professional relevance is a function of whether your story communicates “I told you so” syndrome.
You may work in an entire department whose function is to fix things after they break. Or to assess, after the fact, the reasons behind an increase in defective parts or reduced productivity. In other words, to wait for something to happen, so you can react to the situation. That is the extent of your functionality. And, that also is the extent of your story.
How often do you and your colleagues react to the current situation, by saying: “I told you so. I told you this would happen. But no one asked for my opinion, beforehand.” Why wait for an invitation to the table? Figure out which table you should be sitting at, in the first place.
Second, your relevance is a function of whether your story screams “that’s not what I am paid to do” syndrome.
After you close the sale, or complete your engineering task, then what happens? Are you ever curious about what happens when you throw that sales contract over the wall to a nameless, faceless “someone else” in the organization to execute and implement what is sold? Then again, have you ever considered just where your input or throughput comes from? Because your work does not magically appear on your desk, along that assembly line or in the computer system.
Become professionally curious about how all the people in your entire department, division or company serve customers. Discover how you create and deliver value: not only to your employer but also to each other and your entire organization. What are all the tables you might sit at, if you took a walk through your organization?
Third, the value of your professional relevance is a function of whether your story is about your expansive network of internal and external resources.
Does your network of resources include subject-matter experts, regardless of job title, pay grade, level of education and generation? Not only decision makers, leaders and managers. But also, end users, machine operators, administrators, maintenance professionals, you-name-its, provide a proactive reality check for the organization. They have a lot of pent up “I told you so” to share with you.
So, why not ask their opinions? And capture their voices. Then, invite them to sit with you, first at their own table. Next, at yours. Curating a network of resources is your key to becoming a proactive and professionally relevant.
To change your professional relevance, change the breadth and depth of your professional story. The success of your career trajectory depends on what you decide to do next.
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Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset® Storytelling for STEM Professionals and Left Brain Thinkers Speaking Programs target purpose-driven professional success. Become more visible, relevant and valuable to your organization.
Find out more about Babette’s professional story here. Babette is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Her playbook of communication hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Babette’s speaker profile is on the espeakers platform. Contact Babette here.
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