Put Yourself to Work (Seminars, Training, and Networking)

Published by CPA Canada in CareerVision

Unfortunately, most of us know what it’s like to feel passed over for a promotion or opportunity for advancement.  You know the feeling: you’re sitting at your desk scrolling through your email box, only to see an announcement that a colleague down the hall has been promoted.  You stare at the screen and wonder how this could have happened, given that you both have a similar amount of time on the job and your skills and experience are at about the same level.  To make matters worse, maybe you didn’t even know that there was a promotion opportunity available at all.  Not a great way to start off the day!

The corporate world is often built on standards and processes, designed to develop an employee group of people with similar abilities and competencies.  Employees, however, are individuals that develop and progress at varying levels. Beyond that, there is something more that can make the difference between moving forward and staying put: it’s not length of service or time in a particular job; rather, it is understanding and investing in the idea of putting yourself to work.  Call it a “Me Inc.” attitude.

Having a Me Inc. perspective means taking the lead role in developing your skills and experience.  Instead of depending on an employer to recognize your abilities, it’s about making a conscious effort to invest in yourself with the objective of becoming the right candidate to move up, perhaps, into that job you’ve always wanted.  Beyond that, it’s viewing yourself as a company or talent to be managed and improved upon, which, in turn, increases value (your personal value, in fact).

Taking action to invest in yourself can be very fulfilling, and as you start to experience the benefits of gaining new skills and abilities (and being recognized for doing so), you will be surprised how motivated you will become to keep going.  Not only that, taking action to invest in yourself will become second nature, something you will do without even thinking about it.

But, how do you get started?  Chances are there are a number of opportunities to invest in yourself that are right in front of you.   In this series, we will consider some ideas to increase your personal value, with the goal of putting yourself to work.

In-house seminars, training, and networking

Many businesses host in-house seminars and training programs as part of their normal operations (these types of sessions are typical in the world of accounting and other professional services firms).  In-house sessions can cover a wide range of areas, including technical training, new service offerings, and guest speaker presentations.  Given that they often take place before or after the regular workday, attendance can be limited, in some cases, which represents an opportunity missed.

Put yourself to work

  • Make the effort to attend these types of sessions, not only to gain the knowledge of the content, but also to “see and be seen”.
  • Don’t limit yourself to sessions that are only within your department or particular functional area. If a session is open to all in the organization, make the time to attend; this is a great way to learn about new areas and build relationships.
  • Network with those in attendance, not only to find out what they are doing, but to also make others aware of your skills and interests.
  • Look for opportunities to participate directly in these types of sessions, such as helping to organize or host, providing assistance to speakers, or acting as part of the presenter group in areas where you have sufficient knowledge to do so. You might be surprised by how often these types of events are in need of volunteers.
  • Look for opportunities to put into practice some of the knowledge you have gained so that it is retained, not lost.
  • Spreading the word and encouraging others to attend shows a good attitude and an effort to help the organization be successful. Good managers recognize leadership among their employees, and know that it can be present (or absent!) at any level.

Keep this up over time and you will be recognized as part of the group that “shows up”, as opposed to those who don’t.  And showing up is easily half the battle.