Episode 10: Creating Relevance


How relevant are you where you want to have more impact next? This may seem like a silly question at some level; I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, I’ve been doing this for five, 10, 15 years, I’d say I’m relevant.” But are you really?

During crossroads in my career, the question of relevance has often appeared when others may not have known of my experience, knowledge, expertise, or even training. I specifically remember a time in my career when I thought many saw me as a key contributor, an obvious choice for the next promotion, but when I let others around me know I was ready for that next opportunity, I was politely asked to stay focused on my current role instead. I was taken aback and confused, and wasn’t willing to leave it at that, so I did some investigation. I was kindly told things such as, “Do you really think you’re ready for this new role?, or, “I don’t think that makes sense for you right now.” I realized my colleagues didn’t see me as relevant!

If you have aspirations to take your career to the next level or expand your impact by managing more people or even getting on a board, it’s very possible that you have to mind your professional gaps. In this week’s Career Strategies for Women That Work, I’m sharing why and how to be aware of  where you may have to create more relevance based on what you want and where you want to have more impact next.

Before we jump into the episode, I want you to keep these questions in mind as you listen:

  • Do you have the experience needed to take on this next step?
  • How relevant are you for where you wanted to have an impact next?
  • Are there any fundamental noticeable gaps preventing you from reaching your next level?

5:30 Even after a 15-year career in technology, I found that I had to create more relevance in areas I aspired to impact next. I was ready for something new, something bigger, something with more purpose and impact, but kept being shut out. It took me about 12 months to get from, “No, we are not interested,” to a “Yes, we would love to hire you!”

Not only did I have to create more relevance. This meant aligning with the people in my network where I currently was and those who were in places I wanted to go, and showcasing new skill sets in the area I wanted to pursue next.

 6:27 One of the ways I was able to accomplish creating more relevance in my career was through creating a plan of action. I made a list of questions to help me identify the gaps in my career and guide me in where I needed to spend my time and energy to create more relevance. First, I investigated the people who already held positions or who had impact where I wanted to go, then I asked:

      • What titles do they currently hold?
      • What professional steps have they taken to get there?
      • What groups do they belong to now?
      • What have they posted, published, or participated in?
      • What makes them uniquely equipped for the level of impact they’re at at this particular time?

The answers to these questions creates a to-do list of the next steps you need to take and of where to focus your time and energy to get to a place of more relevance and impact.

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8:44 Relevance is not something I thought about often, as I mentioned before, earlier on in my career. But as you move up in your career, there are fewer and fewer jobs available so being sharp and prepared often is an effective strategy. To do this, you need to understand where you are and where you want to have an impact next.  From there, you can outline the type of relevance you need to create to essentially build that bridge from where you are to where you want to go. I’ve covered a few strategies in previous episodes:

      • Episode 6: People have to know what you do and have accomplished
      • Episode 8: Align with the right mentors and sponsors who will advocate on your behalf

9:50 If you desire to have more influence and impact based on the greater, next move for you, you have to make time in your schedule and align your yeses, your work, and your energy. It is essential! I provided a four-page worksheet as part of Episode 2, that will help you find areas in your existing calendar where you can add more things to your day, week, quarter, or month, to gain the essential knowledge you need and to enhance crucial relationships that will help you create more relevance.

Episode 10 Podcast Questions

10:40 It is important you do not hide your work or accomplishments. If you find you do not currently have relevance in your career, you need the people around you to see you in a new light. Others may not realize the work you are putting into your career, so make sure they know.

Ideas to increase your relevance

      • Sign up for online courses
      • Go to a conference or conventions—online or in-person
      • Read relevant books
      • Share your knowledge through blogs, podcasts, or speak at conferences

There are a lot of different things you can do to increase your relevance. And in fact, this week, I’m heading to Mount Shasta in Northern California for a professional retreat. I’ve had Mount Shasta on my list for a while, but I wanted to make sure it made sense for me to go. As I’m starting to take my retreats from one night to multiple nights, I’m attending other women’s retreats to get a flavor of how they build a flow for a multi-night retreat. While I know this retreat will be amazing, it’s not without its purpose; I’m using it as an avenue to build my relevance in this area as well.

11:49 You may be in a similar scenario. You want to take your career to the next level, and you need to attend the events, read the literature, or talk to the people that are already making this happen and will help you get there. So, what activities can you add to your list that will not only give you relevance but maybe even give you the confidence you need for where you want to have an impact next?