Unpacking and Mapping Your Career Business Plan - An LMA Re-Cap

As I was leaving the LMA 2012 conference, I learned that what many of us had been hoping for was coming true - we were starting up a LMANJ city group! Although New York and New Jersey are close together, getting in and out of the city can be less than ideal, particularly on a work night, so those of us working in New Jersey are happy to be piggy-backing off of the NY programs and doing our own networking. 

Our first session took place last Thursday, and after some initial networking among ourselves, we tapped into the NY session via Skype, which was dedicated to the topic of "Unpacking and Mapping Your Career Business Plan." The session was presented by Kelly Hoey, Business Network Strategist, and Jennifer Johnson, J.Johnson Executive Search, Inc. 

I'm always looking to learn, and this session was excellent for that - I got some great tips and the motivation to look at what I can be doing to set better goals for myself within the industry.  Since it's an LMA member program, I won't do a full re-cap, but I'd like to share some of the valuable tips that I got from the session. 

  • If you're looking for a job, the market is looking up. Jennifer reported that hiring is back, and firms are paying top dollar for talent. They're looking for generalists with at least ten years of experience. In particular, the areas that are most popular include business development, entrepreneurial attorneys who are building niche practices, and in-house public relations/communications professionals. 
  • Even if you're not looking for a job, you should keep your resume updated. Set a monthly reminder in your calendar for the last business day of the month, so you can review your activities and update your resume accordingly (if you are looking, you can then tailor your resume before sending it out). The speakers also emphasized the importance of making sure that your LinkedIn profile matches the information in your resume. 
  • Have a professional headshot. Jennifer commented that she's talked to firms who haven't hired somebody because their profile photo was too casual. 
  • When mapping out your ultimate career goals, make sure to be true to who you are, and not base your decisions on a title. Don't shoot for CMO if that's not the job you truly want.  Along these lines, take every opportunity seriously - a title doesn't necessarily tell the full story of a job. 
  • Being focused is better than hoping to be lucky. Look at your past roles, but also look ahead to the roles that you want to inhabit. 
  • The positions that "tap out" in terms of compensation and scope are events, public relations, writing and graphic design. However, you can use these roles to move out of the niche role by volunteering for other projects, diversifying yourself, and looking for opportunities that aren't being met and going after them. 
  • Networking is KEY - Why? For several reasons, including that it's the place you can turn to if your find yourself in an uncertain situation at work - it's better to build your network over time than when you need it. Networking is also valuable when the attorneys that you work with aren't giving you the respect you deserve - you can filter back the rewards of networking to those partners to build your reputation. 
  • Also keep in mind that if you don't network correctly, it can damage your reputation - make sure you do what you say you'll do, and don't be the "can I pick your brain" person who appears only when they need something. 
  • If there are gaps in your network, you can work on these. The speakers commented that women have a more "mentoring focus" for their networks - the network is narrow, but it's deep. Men have a wider, but more shallow network. To broaden your network, they suggested offering to lend your expertise to your favorite charity - for example, if you've never managed people, volunteer so that you can get that experience. 
  • Follow up is also key. If there are people you want to network with, get them in your LinkedIn connections - maybe this is where they're watching and this is how you can feed them information about yourself.  If you want to meet someone and network, find out what makes THEIR world rock. Be helpful and send people information that is of use to them. 
  • To figure out what's right for you - look at your current position and identify the work that you love to do. Then, look at what career opportunities you want more of - this may even be something that you don't currently do, but you can offer to help a colleague with.  Then look at whether your network supports and encourages your professional ambitions. 

Jennifer finished up by saying that it's important to be at your highest and best in your job, as it will seep into your personal life. She added that the formula they shared with us through a worksheet handout can work in other areas of our lives as well. 

With such a great start for LMANJ, I'm looking forward to our next get together already! 

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