COMMENTARY

7 steps to a smarter 2011

Advice on how to improve you business acuemen

If you have heard me speak in the last year or so, I always manage to work in my 95-4-1 principle, my variation of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule):

  • 95 percent of business people are happy with who they are and what they already know.
  • 4 percent of the people bother to attend meetings, seminars, read trade publications (like the one you are reading right now) and an occasional book.
  • 1 percent of people bother to excel and work very hard at getting better at what they do.

Most people simply think that going through the normal business activities of each day is enough to keep them current on everything they need to know. This is not nearly enough.

The government market is not getting any easier. There are changes that have happened recently, and undoubtedly with a new Congress there will be more changes coming. In order to further your career, or grow your business, here are a few things you can do to expand your knowledge base and to increase your value to your organization.

1) Pick up a book. According to a recent national survey, adults in the U.S. read only one book each year and 25 percent read no books at all. You can see what other people are reading by looking at t LinkedIn profiles. One LinkedIn app is the Amazon reading list app. While not everyone uses it, many do. There are always good books waiting to be read by inquiring minds, even books on selling to the government. Read a couple books and use the Amazon app on your LinkedIn profile. FYI, e-books are starting to outsell hardcover books.

2) Stay current by reading the trade publications, especially Washington Technology. Don’t get the magazine in the mail? Read it online. If you like an article, post it to some of your LinkedIn groups, tweet it, and send kudos to the reporter. If the article has a comment area at the end, consider posting your thoughts.

3) Participate in trade associations like TechAmerica, ACT/IAC, APMP and others. There are lots of excellent groups out there and there is always volunteer work to be done. Participation in groups raises your visibility, and working closely with these groups keeps you involved in pertinent issues. Being around other professionals always stimulates the mind.

4) Attend a few seminars this year. None of us knows all we should know, and attending the right seminars can enhance your knowledge. Make certain you are attending events from a reputable provider, though. There are some events that are not worth attending. Look to your professional associations first for educational seminars. If you walk out with one or two new ideas, it is time well spent.

5) Traveling any time? Take a book and some trade publications with you to read on the plane or train.

6) If you are not on LinkedIn, join. If you are on LinkedIn, join a couple groups and start monitoring the group discussion areas. In the groups I belong to there are always several really good discussions going on. Add your two cents when you have something to say. If you have any questions, the discussion area is a great place to do some research for free. Do not use online social networking to replace face-to-face networking. Use it to expand your reach and develop a broader professional network.

7) Find a few industry-related blogs to read and comment on the blog posts. There are hundreds to choose from, including the Editor’s blog at WashingtonTechnology.com.

Get out of your comfort zone and start expanding your mind. You will increase your employability and your personal satisfaction will soar.

The question is not “can you do it,” but “will you do it?” Resolve for 2011 to excel.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.

Reader Comments

Thu, Jan 6, 2011

Great list! I'm sure reading the latest mystery novel would be a good thing, but in addition, a business related book is a must read. Even small books can change a life. My career took at right turn after I read "Who Moved My Cheese" back in 2002. It was a one hour read that has made a huge difference for me. "Fish" about the fish market - a must read for your management team. "Seven Reasons Why Smart Executives Fail". All on my past read list which I even pick up to reread.

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