Building the right kinds of capital

Progressing in your career no longer means simply getting better and better at some skill or becoming more knowledgeable about a particular topic so that your employer benefits. You expand your expertise so that you can become more professional to position yourself to offer your intrinsic talents to employers who need them at just the right time.In today’s employment world, you improve what you do and know because ultimately what you have to rely on is your own ability to offer needed professionalism to those willing to pay for it. Among the lessons learned in this Great Recession is that employment security with a company or organization is less and less certain.Therefore, the only boss we really have to answer to is ourselves.To that end, I’d like to vary a professional self-improvement model first developed by Mansour Javidan, a researcher and professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. He proposes that three types of capital — intellectual, emotional and social — be developed by managers who work in global markets and with international direct reports. Without going deeply into his theory I am suggesting that these three types of capital apply in the area of career development. Enhancing your marketable expertise requires a three-pronged approach, which will result in you becoming more knowledgeable, energized and better able to take advantage of opportunities in today’s employment arena.

Types of capital

Intellectual capital refers to the body of knowledge needed to be really good at what you do. As a lifelong learner, you should always be comprehending more fully the scope and range of all there is to know to keep you ahead of the curve and certain of your field’s best practices and important issues.You keep this knowledge acquisition continuous through a variety of means ranging from:• Day-to-day engagement and practice• Keeping up with relevant topics presented in the media and your professional organizations• Tracking and participating in related discussions in your slice of the blogosphere and networking groups, both face to face and online• Being aware of the evolving nature of your industry is fundamental in enhancing your strength and managing any weaknesses as you seek opportunitiesEmotional capital is what you build the more you work at what you most want to do and are best at doing. To be truly fulfilling, work should be intrinsically motivating and not just done for external rewards like a paycheck.Your work should be to express your vocation. It’s necessary, therefore, for us to constantly be striving to create conditions by which we shed doing those

tasks that drain us and taking on those tasks that energize us. Profound work satisfaction is possible when we closely align our passions, interests, talents and aptitudes with the jobs we have taken on to do. Our spirits can be lifted as we expertly provide a service to employers or clients in need. At this point, we no longer need to compartmentalize our work life from who we really are.Often referred to as networking, building and maintaining social capital is the third leg of the professional growth stool. Discovering new career opportunities are largely the result of quality connections we make with others who are acquainted with our value.Growing and sustaining this pool of contacts should be purposeful and strategic. Managing your professional brand and reputation will allow others who need your services or can be a source of referrals for others who do to find out about you. Favorable circumstances just don’t occur by chance alone, they are made by extending ourselves to the industry community of insiders and customers. Being well-connected gives you options and the liberty to chart the direction of your career. The growth recently of online networking tools like LinkedIn and the NHBR Network make building social capital more possible than ever.Take the time to assess how effectively you are building these three kinds of capital. It’s not just something you do during a job search. Shaping your career is a perpetual necessity that only you can control.
Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, also is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289