He summed it up in four words: Awareness, Conversation, Contacts and Career. Awareness leads to meaningful conversation with people you meet. Meaningful conversation leads to valuable contacts. Valuable contacts are almost alway the best way to move your career forward.
He said that awareness is the most important thing. He strives to be aware of what is going on around him and what is happening in the world. He does this by attending a couple of industry conferences each year and visiting social media sites including Twitter and Facebook multiple times as week. He treats social media visits as micro-conferences. Such awareness leads to meaningful conversations both online and offline. He applies what he learns in routine jobs that he does every day. In other words, he does small experiments and innovates on the job.
He said that conferences are places where you can learn things that did now know that you need to know. Conferences are places where you run into people you did not know you need to meet. Meaningful conversations, both in-person and online, lead to valuable contacts.
Valuable contacts are important for tactical work that he does every day. Contacts are also important for strategic decisions and actions that he needs to take in the long term.
- Tactical contacts : He said that he tags these contacts in his head with specific terms. For example, he tags certain contacts as go to people for solving technical issues. Certain people help him solve procedural issues and certain others help him solve policy issues. He could tell me 10 such tactical contacts and how they help him at work. All tactical contacts were in the same location or in the same time zone. He said that tactical contacts help him do his work efficiently.
- Strategic contacts are people outside his organization who can give him a clear, unbiased opinion about decisions and actions. He relies on strategic contacts for guidance on his career and development. He has 3 strategic contacts.
Good contacts are the best way to move your career forward he said. He also said that when a trusted contact recommends a job for you, you know it is time to move.
One more thing. He said that he is always nice to people. The most important career and development strategy.