“The only constant in life is change.” – Heraclitus
I recently had a conversation with my friend. In this conversation, we talked about many things (as we tend to do), but our conversation quickly began to revolve around change, the current business landscape, and where we think life is headed.
It was during this dialogue that my friend stopped and said something to the effect of, “How has it only been three years since the Pandemic? In some ways, it feels like it has been over a decade!”
This comment from our conversation has been on my mind all week.
It seems as though the pace of change and innovation have been turbocharged as of late. Social media trends, changes in consumer behavior, and advancements in AI are just a few examples of the innumerable changes since the pandemic.
Change is most definitely a constant, but the fear of said change is also constant.
Routines, consistency, and predictability play a big role in creating a sense of control over our lives and our careers.
However, I believe that to succeed and thrive in today’s professional world you have to not only be willing to deal with change but embrace it.
So, How do we as government communicators keep up, stay informed, and remain relevant amid all this change?
Here are five ways that I push myself to remain relevant:
1. Traditional Networking
In a world where nearly every meeting is now virtual, and we constantly find our days looking more and more like the Brady Bunch intro, don’t underestimate the power of traditional, face-to-face networking. There is a special dynamic that only comes from these conversations.
When attending a conference or event, make an effort to seek opportunities to network with others outside of your normal group of friends or acquaintances. By doing so you will be exposed to different points of view and ideas, and ultimately leave inspired.
2. Schedule Time to Learn
This is one that I struggle with, but have seen firsthand the effect it has had on my career when I make it a priority.
“A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.” – Peter Turla
By scheduling and blocking out time in your calendar for learning you show your colleagues, and yourself, just how important learning is to you. Spend time learning about topics of interest to you, but also spend time on topics that will advance your career and help you remain relevant in the long run.
3. Find Teaching Opportunities
Studies show that people are more likely to remember and understand concepts they’ve learned after explaining them to someone else.
These teaching opportunities can be both big and small. Hosting lunch and learns, classes, or workshops within your department or organization would be a great place to start. In addition, many colleges and universities, nonprofitis, and other organizations are actively seeking adjunct professors or guest speakers to help bring new life and a fresh perspective to their classrooms and agencies.
Imagine the benefits of refreshing your perspective by preparing to teach somebody else about an important topic.
As an example, In the church that I belong to there is no formally ordained pastor or minister. Each Sunday members of the congregation are selected and prepare a talk to share with the rest of the members. The topic is usually assigned a week in advance but this requires the individual to prepare, learn, and internalize the subject matter before they show up to present next Sunday.
4. Leverage Communities
Like the communities that we form and are a part of in our neighborhoods and cities, online communities are an integral part of remaining relevant throughout our lives and especially our careers.
Just think of your community or neighborhood Facebook group and how it helps you know of upcoming garage sales, service opportunities, or community events.
The internet is an amazing place. You can find a community built around any subject matter imaginable: cars, cameras, video games, painting, and even government communications.
A few of the government communications communities that I have found to be extremely beneficial to be a part of are Government Social Media LLC (GSM), City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA), and the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC).
These communities will become an invaluable resource to you in your journey to remain relevant. They will provide you with up-to-date industry-specific information, training and networking opportunities, and a support system that gets you and what you are experiencing because they do the same work you do!
5. ABC = Always Be Curious
I don’t remember much from my time in college (who does really?), but I do remember this, the professor of my consumer behavior class, Professor Greer taught me an invaluable lesson on keeping up with consumer behavior, the business world, and life in general. He would always say, “Remember your ABC’s. Always, Be, Curious.”
This rings so true in today’s world. We are seeing change and advancements happen every day. We need to be curious, try new tools, try new approaches, do research, etc.
I fear that if we don’t, we may find ourselves quickly becoming stagnant and potentially obsolete.
There is no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.
The Need to Step Back and Acknowledge the Need for Change
As important as these tactics are to becoming and remaining relevant in our careers as government communicators they won’t do us any good if we first don’t become aware of the need to change or keep up with the pace of change. And have the humility to do something about it.
The people and communities we serve need us. They need the valuable information that we share with them and we owe it to ourselves and them to keep on top of our game and remain relevant.