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Staying Relevant in your Grant Career

Co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, stated, “You have to be constantly reinventing yourself and investing in the future.” In a climate where success depends on your response to industry changes, staying relevant is critical.

Staying relevant is very different from being current. Relevancy is action! Reading the news? That's being current. Contacting your client to tackle more applications in response to funding changes? That's relevancy. And relevancy doesn't have to happen in your career alone. It can be industry specific, in a Board or volunteer role, or parenting!

Career Relevancy

While relevancy can be part of any life facet, we spend much of our adult lives working. As part of our career success, relevancy is critical. It doesn't matter if you've been in your career 20 days or 20 years – you have to stay relevant to your “customer”. Here are few areas for keeping you up to speed:
  • Be able to sell you AND your organization – whether you call it an elevator speech or pitch points, know the highlights of yourself and experience, and also your employer. Take some time every month to review and update-you have to sell yourself well.
  • Manage first impressions – when was the last time that you Googled yourself? Hit search and see what pops up. Does the first page contain things you want someone to know about you first? Needs include LinkedIn, organization website, blog posts or articles, or your own personal website. Not on LinkedIn? Get a profile ASAP!
  • Until the trend changes, use Twitter – most of you are probably not thinking about your next career move. But over half of recruiters are on Twitter and select  their best candidates with it. Create a decent presence now to use later.  Build your organization's brand or participate in conversations like GrantChat. Follow other grant pros, foundations, and funders. Was all of that Greek to you? That's okay. Take some time to understand Twitter. It will be to your benefit.
Other Tips

Relevancy is not only related to your career or job specifically. But these additional tips can keep you relevant in all your roles:
  • Make relevancy a priority – I personally think this is easier when used as annual goals. Whether professional development, updating social media, or making one new connection every week, keep it front of mind.
  • Learn something new – My belief is everyone should be open to learning something new regardless of a credential credit or certification it may provide. If you restrict learning to only what you HAVE to learn, does it do any good? You can always find one good take away from a workshop or course.
  • Stay connected – some of us did not grow up with 24/7 connections, this can be difficult. While being available 24/7 is debatable, there is value in after close of business check-ins. Remember, your competition is always connected.
  • Practice self-care – otherwise, you will burn out. Most of us know that feeling and it's not pleasant. Know when to disconnect, but delegate responsibility while you are out. Learn how to ‘reset'.
  • Be flexible – in all situations be an asset. Share experiences and be open to new ideas. Point out costs and benefits so everyone knows you're open and easy to work with but decisive.

Relevancy will differ from person to person. Only you alone determine how to stay relevant in your many roles. Quiz yourself once a month to see what may be on the horizon and work on your relevancy.

What is one thing you can do this week to increase your relevancy? Share your plan below to encourage others to do the same.

Ericka Harney is a consultant to nonprofit organizations, GPA Approved Trainer, and an Organizational Leadership Doctoral Candidate at Eastern University.