Carbon-Based Networking and Managing Your Career

Before I started down the path of obtaining my CCIE, I finally came to the realization that I, and I alone, was the one that needed to be in charge of my career (I do however have a Chief Adviser – my lovely wife!). Company training programs, managers, recruiters – they all have a myriad of competing goals that may not line up with yours. Once I reached my goal of obtaining the CCIE certification, I began to consider my next steps, and a big one for me was Carbon-based networking – as opposed to the silicon-based networking I spend the rest of my time on. The other has been one of the more complicated tasks of setting my own road map and deciding what I was going to study next.

I got a little reinforcement from this recent post: Getting Plugged In by Matthew Norwood.

My own goals including writing and blogging more… so here you have it:

Professional Road Map – Manufactures and vendors have road maps, and you should to. Plan your career – where are you at, where do you want to be? Short and long term, plan your career. A new job can change things rapidly, but that’s no reason as to not have a destination in mind.

Education and Training – Shocking news, everything we’re doing in IT and networking has massive change. If your company gives you large amounts of time and money to study, then consider yourself very lucky. For the rest of us, you need to expect to study on your own time, and to some extent your own dime. Certainly take what you can get, but be leery of sudden training courses on products or technologies not on your personal road map. Consider them carefully before jumping at the chance just because it’s company-sponsored training. Downtime, slow days, flex days are all good for making the time to study.

Personal Brand – I must admit, I think of cheesy lines from Austin Powers when using this phrase. However, you mostly likely already have a personal brand – especially given today’s social networks (LinkedIn CEO stresses personal brand creation). My personal experience is to be careful what things you choose to do and say on this front, things can quickly make it back to you. I welcome the refreshing frank talk by many of those I follow on twitter and whose blogs I read, and perhaps even get a little thrill from their free speech – but I’ve learned a hard lesson and and would recommend careful consideration on that front – so everything I say online I expect to be heard by a customer or a business partner, and thus I try to choose my words carefully.

Carbon-Based Networking – I recently attended my very first “networking” event, or at least by the definition everyone outside of IT thinks of when someone says “networking”. There’s no active Cisco Users Group around me – so my first event was the IT Martini Hour in Cleveland, Ohio and I’ve got plans to attend a Northeast Ohio Information Security Forum meeting soon, as well as an Association of Information Technology Professionals meeting. Branch out, meet new people, expand your comfort zone – even if it’s uncomfortable.


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