Part 1 of Create Your Own Current, a series of articles with specific examples and strategies to help readers see their professional life thru a different set of glasses. Check back for new articles in the series regularly!
Re-entry into the workplace is certainly one of this year’s “hot topics” for women in business. This seems to be mostly because so many professional women are making their re-entry due to economic pressures, job loss or phase-of-life changes. A little over 4 years ago, life handed me a great big bowl of lemons as a professional woman and single-mom of two young children. Literally overnight, I became sole provider of my kids, and quickly realized that I needed to be an employee with benefits so I could provide them with health insurance, braces and a host of other expenses that the typical 8 and 10 year old need. In the many networking groups I have become engaged, one fact about women stands out: “re-entry” is oftentimes a result of life’s changes. We, as professional women, are faced with the choice of curling up in a ball and maintaining a state of emotional paralysis or picking ourselves up “by the bootstraps,” and seeking out our opportunities with the innovation, drive and multi-tasking abilities that make us uniquely women.
So if you are reading this and are contemplating a new career as a result of a lost job, are re-entering the workforce after a divorce or need to find a way to bring more money in as your household income has dramatically decreased…NOW is the time to create your own current in this big sea of the professional marketplace. Here are a few tips to help you ride the wave:
• Move yourself from the QUIET ZONE into the STRIKE ZONE. These are times of challenge and we are feeling a bit uncomfortable. Now is NOT the time to sit still and “wait it out,” whether the “it” is the economy or just your own fear. In the QUIET ZONE, we perceive peace but, in reality, we are stagnant. You are a talented woman with ideas and skills…now all you need are alliances (your people) and opportunity. In the STRIKE ZONE, we are a bit uncomfortable but in life we must experience discomfort if we are moving, and we must move if we want change and growth. Attitude is the first key to your success in this new and exciting workplace, and that attitude is found in the STRIKE ZONE.
• Be UNIQUE, don’t compete. When you assess your own set of personal and professional skills, they most likely add up to a host of professional options for you. In my personal assessment, I was a bit of a “drama queen” my entire life, I love being around people and could talk to a wall, and my professional stepping stones included the field of psychology and business (which meant I’d probably have an upper hand in the field of sales). With that skill set, I found two professions: Business Development (the sales and people piece) and Professional Speaker (the people and drama queen piece). It is this unique combination of my personal and professional skills that were combined to create my uniqueness. I made it my mission to not compete with others in the industry but, rather, to create innovative ways to stand out and establish my uniqueness.
• DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY. One area in which we women are experts? Making new friends and socializing. Networking is a craft and should be done strategically. If you are establishing your own current in this great big sea, you must also identify which networking groups and opportunities best suit YOU, your personality and your industry. I consider my networking or what I like to call “making new friends and alliances” to be a portfolio of diverse groups. I strongly encourage women to not get locked- in to one group or industry-specific opportunity. I attend groups of professionals from my own industry to watch and learn; I attend groups like the Chambers of Commerce to meet and strategize collaborations with other professionals; I attend groups of professional women to make new friends and feel energized as a woman in business. Networking is what you make it and diversity will offer you opportunities for learning and making new friends. And, as professional women who create our own current, we all know that we prefer to do business with our friends!
• THERE IS NO BOX! If you are truly in your professional STRIKE ZONE, you are not limited by the parameters of the box, nor do you think or look “outside the box.” You see, my friends, with the right attitude, strategies and alliance-building, you have created your own current (no more swimming against the current!) and are free to ride the wave of success because if you believe THERE IS NO BOX, professional growth and success is yours!
Written originally for w2wlink by Darlene Ellison.
See and buy Darlene's new book, The Predator Next Door.
is author of the award-winning book “The Predator Next Door” and speaks nationally on overcoming obstacles and building meaningful alliances. She also serves as Vice President, Business Development for Professional Bank in Dallas and founded two community “Women In Business” organizations. Her personal story of has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20 and Dateline NBC. www.DarleneEllison.com