The American philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went to the woods, because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to love deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” I love that passage, and while I’m not hiding out on Walden Pond, I try to follow that philosophy.
As professionals we need “to suck out the marrow” of our career lives. We have to lead active, deliberate careers that are at least somewhat externally focused. That means you turn off the laptop, step out of your cubical and get involved outside the office.
As long as you don’t over-commit yourself – burning the candle at both ends, so to speak – being involved actually makes you better at your core work.
People who join professional associations, who get involved in their place of worship, or who engage in community service learn more and meet more people. Many of the people you meet during involvement opportunities are members of your personal target audience. In any given office, there is at least one person who is active in the community and seemingly knows everyone. It is no coincidence that such a person brings in a lot of business, finds great publicity opportunities for the company and, in turn, gets a lot of promotions.
Simply put, involvement leads to success. Self marketing is a 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year obligation. It does not end until your career ends. You must be out there seeing and being seen. You have to do it perpetually, so that your personal target audience remembers you.
An acquaintance of mine once noticed my quote and picture in a newspaper article. A week earlier, she saw me do an interview on television. She occasionally listened to my radio show. She would frequently see me at networking functions around town. She called me one afternoon and said, “I just have to tell you – you are everywhere!” She was amazed at how I was getting around town, meeting people and building name recognition. I told her it was just part of my job and part of my long-term career strategy. I wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t already know, because she too did a great job being “everywhere.”
Use your time wisely. If you have family or other commitments in the evening, make sure you use your lunch hour for networking and other self marketing activities. Ambitious professionals should not eat lunch by themselves more than once or twice a week; it’s simply too important of a networking opportunity to waste.
The fact is, in order to stand out, you need to be everywhere. As much as you may desire to go home and watch television after work, you need to spend a little more time working, showing up at events. While you don’t have to drink until your liver gives out, you do need to be a man or woman about town. Sometimes you have to stay out late at a cocktail party where important prospects have gathered. Sometimes you need to get up early and meet a member of your personal target audience for coffee before you both start work.
It’s not easy, and it comes with a price, but successful professionals are seemingly “everywhere.”