Building Your BA Career

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The world of work is becoming more and more competitive, and much of the work that specialist technical professionals do is continually being assessed for either automation or the application of A.I. On top of that, performance expectations continue to rise. So, what can you do to future proof your Business Analyst career?

Sophie Bennett, Bestselling Author and Keynote Speaker
Sophie will be keynoting at the Business Analysis Conference Europe 23-25 September 2019 on the subject, ‘
The Four Pillars of Thought Leadership: How to Stand Out and Elevate Your Career

With technical excellence everywhere, and a workforce that’s becoming increasingly global and connected, there’s a lot of competition for the most interesting projects and the best roles.

So, although qualifications and certifications help, they don’t really differentiate you. After all, the minimum qualifications for the job are usually just the starting point of client expectations. If you aren’t properly qualified, you are likely to be screened out of the recruitment process early on. So, if qualifications aren’t the answer, what is?

I believe there are two key things that over the course of your career that have a massive impact on your personal success, your enjoyment at work and your long term earning potential.

The first is your personal network, the second is your personal brand. Those two things work hand in hand. It’s not going to help you much to have a large personal network unless people remember you for what you bring to the table.

There’s no doubt that people who are easy to remember for a specific characteristic, expertise or soft skill find more opportunities come to them than people who are highly competent but forgettable.

Not everyone consciously builds their own network, some people happily drift along just casually picking up contacts along the way. Yet those same happy-go-lucky people will need something (or someone) new in their organisation or team from time to time. And who are the first people they turn to?

Simple: they go to people that they already know, like and trust. At the top of that list are people who have a reputation of being great to work with. At the top of that list are people who have managed to stay front of mind over time.

That’s where your network and your personal branding pays dividends. After all, your personal brand is simply a deliberately and carefully crafted and well managed reputation.

According personal branding expert author Dorie Clark (who writes for Forbes and Harvard Business Review), up 70 or even 80% of new career opportunities aren’t advertised. I recently interviewed Dorie for my book and she commented, “it’s natural for people reach out to their network first and then only advertise for a job or consultant if they have no luck from inside their personal bank of trusted connections.”

Building a profile that will stick in the minds of others as they develop their careers isn’t just advantageous to you, it’s likely to be a great asset to them too. When you make the effort to follow what they are doing on a platform like LinkedIn, or through a professional association or institute, you stay front of mind and your connections can easily become their connections. That’s powerful. Simply being the person who ‘knows good people’ can turn you into the go-to person.

Giving honest positive recommendations on LinkedIn can be a great strategy for becoming known as a person who takes time to contribute for others too. It’s another way of being remembered by colleagues and associates.  You will only get payback on a small percentage of what you do – but that’s OK because you never know which things are going to pay off and which aren’t. You only get the luxury of that hindsight many years later!

Though anything worth having is worth waiting for and building a career is no different. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Building your personal brand thankfully does not mean all out self-promotion. But what it does mean is that you do put your head above the parapet and get known, seen and heard.

The best way to do that is to help others. Publishing articles and writing useful things that help people to stay informed and volunteering to help out for your professional association are all useful brand building and network building activities.

If you have a stand-out personal skill or an element of technical excellence that isn’t readily available, then you could share your top tips with others. Maybe you have a compelling vision of the future? Then publish short articles or share your content with the internal communication team.

In summary, building your personal brand and nurturing your personal network go hand in hand. Being reliable, delivering on your promises, and paying attention to where others perceive you add maximum value will give you a solid foundation for your future.

Sophie Bennett is a speaker & bestselling author of several books. Her background is elite sport, followed by business and communications consulting. Formerly interim head of content and global sales information for Dell, she has a lifelong fascination with what drives us towards peak performance. Her most recent book explores what really motivates us, and why motivation matters more than talent. Sophie is the ghost writer behind a recent management bestseller about the impact of new technology and he has helped many experts in their field to build the skills,  stand on a bigger stage and make a more powerful impact than they ever thought possible. Twitter: @SophieBennettUK

Copyright Sophie Bennett, Bestselling Author and Keynote Speaker

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