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Get Out There!

~ By Michelle LaBrosse & Kristen LaBrosse

Businessman smoking with make-up skeleton

A serious condition is spreading like fireweed across corporate America. The symptoms include glazed-over eyes, droopy shoulders, cramped hands, aversion to natural lighting and a permanent butt print in your office chair. This condition is called Corporate Zombie Syndrome. It can strike when one spends far more time looking at a computer than not, or hasn't talked to a real coworker, except through WebEx meetings, in months. But don't worry, there is a simple cure that can alleviate these symptoms and get you out of your Corporate Zombie state. That cure is to Get Out There!

The technology age that we live in provides everything imaginable at our fingertips, which creates an environment by which we can do many jobs without leaving a desk. There are days when I am quite productive without leaving my office, or even my chair. Although, some very important components of your professional career are lost when you hide behind your computer screen, so it's important to make sure you take the time to get out there to advance your career.

Don't Eat Alone

It is a common scene in many businesses, people eating lunch hunched over their computers, dripping mustard in their keyboards, and trying to type with one hand while eating with the other. This type of rushed food frenzy is not only bad for your digestive track, but bad for your professional life as well. While it is OK to eat lunch at your desk when you are on a tight deadline, make a habit of taking the time to eat lunch outside of the office with coworkers, prospective clients, your boss, or your team. Everyone has to eat lunch. So why not make this a time when you can build rapport with people you work with, or whom you work for?

Be Visible

If you are hiding in your office, you will definitely not have a random chance encounter that will lead to great business or networking opportunities. While the chance of meeting someone you could help or who could help you varies depending on where you go, there is at least a possibility of a fantastic chance encounter occurring, but only if you leave your office.

While working in your office, be visible by keeping your door open. People will more likely come in and talk to you without feeling they are disturbing you. If you, like many professionals nowadays, work from home, switch up your scene every now and then by going to a coffee shop near a business park to get your work done. When you are visible, you are accessible to the opportunities that the world has in store for you.

Be Proactive

Getting out there is not just about passively waiting for opportunities to arrive at your doorstep. Be proactive by getting involved in organisations. Project Managers can do this by approaching the local PMI chapter and seeing how they can help.

The more you help others succeed in their initiatives, the more likely you are to succeed. Give this idea a try and offer to help out at the very next local PMI chapter meeting you have, you might be surprised by the results.

Build Your Social Capital

As a society, we need to be more aware of the forms of capital that are accessible to us besides monetary capital. Social capital, which is made up of the people you know and the connection you have with them, is a very important source of capital that you need to cultivate throughout your career.

The book Influencer by Kerry Patterson, introduces something called the Network Quotient (NQ). You can use your NQ to measure your social capital. Start with drawing your NQ by creating a mind map on a piece of paper, with a circle in the middle that represents you, and the names of everyone you know coming out from that. The closer the person is to you and the more influence they have in your life, the bigger the circle is around their name. Below is an example of my NQ.

Network Quotient Diagram

Work on growing your NQ as avidly as you would work on expanding your investment portfolio, it is that important!

If you follow these tips, you just might be able to avoid the Corporate Zombie Syndrome that has afflicted so many. But it takes perseverance and an unwavering belief that today, and every day, you will make an effort to just Get Out There.

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.

Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become "Cheetahs" using Cheetah Learning's innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.

Recently honoured by the Project Management Institute (PMI), Cheetah Learning was named Professional Development Provider of the Year at the 2008 PMI Global Congress. A dynamic keynote speaker and industry thought leader, Michelle was previously recognised by PMI as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world.


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