You get cocky. You get complacent.
Allow me to be honest. I’m a victim of this. Back in 2009 or so, everyone told me I was the most tech-savvy author and consultant they knew. After all, I’d been active on Facebook since it was MySpace’s little brother, and my blog, launched in 2004, was one of the most established in our industry.
But here’s the thing about technology. It changes quickly. I got busy with other things, and I stopped keeping up. I didn’t consider my continuing education a priority, because after all, I was an expert already! Then, at a recent conference, I attended a mobile tech session, and I was shocked how much I didn’t know nearly enough about. QR codes? ITTT? Developing your own apps? I was totally clueless.
Success in my line of work relies on keeping pace with the most effective ways to market my brand and disseminate my content, and this was a real wake-up call. I won’t let myself get so behind again.
And neither should you. If you have built a reputation in your organization as a strong performer, it’s especially important that you live up to the good word. Expectations of you are now higher than ever, and you have to work hard to exceed them. Take your eye off the ball for a minute, and you could be in danger of losing momentum. Here are a few ways to ensure that you’re always upping your game.
Learn the skills associated with the job description two levels above you.
Not only will you have to have these competencies eventually, but if you can master them now, you’ll always be ahead of your colleagues. Check out senior-level descriptions on your company Intranet and external job boards.
Attend a conference in a new field.
Instead of relying on the same tired events for your professional development, try something completely different. Sessions should be applicable to your job, but ideally will encourage you to approach your tasks from a new perspective.
Read the futurists.
Trade publications like The Futurist are terrific for expanding your knowledge on upcoming ideas and trends and being able to speak articulately about them. And the best part is, you will probably be the only one in your organization who is this forward-thinking.
Tap your advisers.
Whether you have a formal mentor or a group of execs or colleagues you periodically ask for advice, seek candid feedback on your areas for improvement. Don’t make the mistake of believing you are perfect just because your boss loves you. Remember that even the most successful CEOs identify their weaknesses and take steps to address them.
Hone your communication.
Whether it’s written, virtual, one-to-one, or group interaction, you should be proficient in getting those brilliant ideas across. If you have the expertise and intelligence to impress the higher-ups, why not make it known on a broader scale? This way, when you meet new people who can powerfully influence your career, your reputation will precede you.