[03.01.12]
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When Your Career Needs More Cowbell

Last month I decided to focus on some important aspects of my career and life.  So I took 29 days to do just that and here are my results and conclusions.  If you read my post on February 1, you’ll see that I chose to do more of some things and less of others:

  • On the plus (do more of) side was getting the new software done, doing more business development to find consulting clients, getting in better shape and spending more time with my family.
  • On the minus (do less of) side was social media, blogging, email and networking. All (except email) are things I enjoy but worry are sometimes unproductive distractions if not kept in check.

The goal was to create an environment to get some big things done and not worry so much about the smaller stuff. Kind of like an author who rents a beach house for a week to finish that novel.

So what happened?

I didn’t get as much done as I thought I would.  I was unproductive because in some ways I had too much time to be productive.

I was reminded through this experience that I really need to be busy.  I thrive on deadlines.  And on a variety of focus areas each and every day.

And while I did not give up networking, speaking and blogging completely (see my series on improving the hiring process over at Fix, Build And Drive™), my lower level of engagement reduced my productivity. I was lacking social structure.

So what does this have to do with a cowbell?

    (don't fear) the reaper, social network service, latin percussion, internet memes, business development, successful careers, orchestral percussion, marching percussion, more cowbell, productivity, experiments, career, cowbells, engagement, cowbell, music, focusing, sound, bells, people If you are not a fan of Saturday Night Live or a fan of Blue Oyster Cult, you may not be aware of the skit featuring Will Ferrell “playing” the cowbell in “Don’t Fear The Reaper”.  You don’t have to watch much of the video to get the point, but if you have a few minutes and appreciate the power of music, you’ll love it.

Despite the humor, the cowbell provides an important cadence to the song.  And as I look back on the last 29 days I was missing cadence in my daily routine.

Despite the potential for distraction while talking to people on Twitter, posting updates to Facebook or commenting in LinkedIn Groups, I realized that social networking in any form is a necessary distraction.  It plays an important role not only by keeping us in touch with our network but also in providing a “beat” to work by each day.

Social networking is my cowbell.  And I gotta have more cowbell in my career.

Now I am reminded by my own experience how critically important engagement has become.  Whether I am meeting with a job seeker, speaking in front of a group or talking with someone online, being with people energizes me.  And it does so in a way that 29 days in a log cabin cannot.

Social networking grounds us, provides important introductions, momentum, structure and feedback. Used with a purpose, it is a critical part of building a successful career today.  You can no longer avoid it or write it off as child’s play.

And for those of you wondering about my results for the month, they were mixed.  I am in better shape (lost 6 pounds by running and doing 100 push-ups/sit-ups every day), I learned to be a better sales person for my consulting business (created three new opportunities) and the new job search strategy software is now much closer to launch (a few weeks!).

But I felt a little off pace.

Tim Tyrell-Smith is the creator of Tim’s Strategy. As a blogger, Tim has been a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report, interviewed twice on NPR and is the author of two career books (“30 Ideas” and “HeadStrong”). Become a fan at http://facebook.com/TimsStrategy and follow on Twitter (@TimsStrategy). He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Tim Tyrell-Smith – who has written posts on Tim's Strategy®.



Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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