Before the holiday break we had the good fortune to speak with the dynamic Jamie Beaulieu, SVP, Executive Education and CEO Programs for the American Bankers Association about her career in the association industry. To codify the advice, we have surfaced a few key insights that have led Jamie and others to successful transitions even in a pandemic.
Find Your Passion
This phrase is commonplace enough that we believe it may escape deeper meaning because of its ubiquity. It shouldn’t be overlooked or glorified. While passion can lead a lot of people to search for meaning, in this context it should be thought of what excites you about your work. What specific tasks or actions are you undertaking that get your energy flowing and allow you to feel at your best value-adding self? Through her years of working in the association industry, Jamie discovered that she had a real passion for member engagement and education. Being able to home in on what energized her gave her the chance to evaluate what skill sets were involved and how those could be transferable.
While there are those in the association world who are truly passionate about a specific industry or topic and create a path to subject matter expertise, there are a lot more professionals who instead focus on transferable skills within the industry at large.
To Degree or Not Degree
As Jamie mentions in her interview, she graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Her career path would potentially have you thinking otherwise. Jamie was able to dig deeper into what skills she used in her early journalism career that could translate into the industry and job functions she landed in, the trade association world. Her sense of curiosity, desire to learn and create, and her ability to network to gain information and resources are all skills that have translated well in creating engaging membership programs, building educational resources, and in landing her roles in various organizations.
Whatever your degree may have been, dig a little deeper to think about what drew you to that field in the first place. What skills does it take to be good in that field and how might you transfer those into other fields?
Nurture Your Network
Have you ever been to the local networking event and met the guy or gal walking around handing out business cards to every person they met? Have you been that person? Well, don’t be. Networking isn’t a numbers game; it is a method of engagement that seeks to be mutually beneficial to those involved. Jamie advises that when developing your network, you should invest the time to nurture the relationships, find ways to serve each other and grow the connections for the greater good. Her ability to keep open conversations with people in her network allowed her to weather the storm that was the pandemic well because she was able to tap introductions when she needed them. She did this because she had built social capital or equity with her network by seeking to help them as well.
Your network can be large, and it may seem daunting to think of how you can be proactive across the board but just like you think about friends versus acquaintances in your personal life, it is helpful to create some system of identifying inner and outer circles of influence. Cultivate these relationships differently based on the value you can bring and vice versa. Join industry chat groups or start a weekly meet up. Having open forums where you can check in on your network or be supported is a fantastic way to be in sync with people in your network.
The Triple Threat
Like Jamie, if you are in the association industry, be sure that you pursue the same activities for your own development as you provide for those in your organization. Jamie is student and teacher in building professional development having taken part in the CAE certification program herself. She networks within ASAE, similar to how she helps members of the ABA network. And she applies her natural gifts and talents for learning and formulating concepts to develop educational frameworks.
Live as you lead, and you will reap your rewards in your own career.