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New Year's resolutions for young professionals

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa as viewed from the s... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions.

But I am big on lists. And since 2013 is a big year for me, I decided to combine the two and give it a shot.

First, though, a little background. I’m Emilee Richardson, 25, and the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the Science Center of Iowa. I’m a native of Clarinda, Iowa, and a graduate of Drake University. I’ve been in Des Moines for almost eight years, and 2013 is a big year for me because I am assuming the role of president-elect for Young Professionals Connection (YPC).

YPC is a focused extension of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and our mission is to attract and retain young professionals to Greater Des Moines through through social, civic, charitable and professional development endeavors. 2013 is also a big year for YPC, because we recently surpassed 700 members. That means the impact we can have on the community is... big.

This list of resolutions is mostly a series of challenges I’ve set for myself, but I’m hoping other young professionals can relate. So without further ado, here are my BIG resolutions for 2013:

1      I resolve to be better at remembering names and faces. More than anything I’ve found while networking my way around Des Moines is that people really notice when you remember their name. And doesn’t it feel great when someone remembers yours? There are plenty of tricks for name memory. One is to repeat the name immediately after you’re introduced and again before you end the conversation. Another I’ve tried already this year is to have the person spell their name. I’m a visual person, and since my name has an odd spelling, I like to know whether Caitlyn is spelled with a C or a K and if Stephen is with a ph or a v. Find what works for you.

2      I resolve to listen more intently. When you’re talking to someone at a networking event, where there are crowds of people and distractions all around, it’s hard to devote your full attention to a conversation. But to get to know someone, you have to listen to them - and not just superficially. Really focus on listening intently. First and foremost, listen with you’re introduced (see #1). Then, if your conversation has to be interrupted, promise to follow-up (see #3). Ask for a business card or, if you already know the person, plug a reminder into your smartphone to send an email later (see #5).

3      I resolve to follow-up. Following-up can take many forms... Maybe it’s following up on a conversation you had when you met someone. Maybe it’s following-up on one of those to-do items from your meeting. Maybe it’s following-up on an email that’s been sitting in your inbox. Even if it’s a simple, “Got your message. I’ll get back to you by X date,” it at least shows initiative and gives you a deadline. Following-up makes you look more professional and more personal all at once... It’s a win-win!

4      I resolve to make real-life connections. Des Moines is full of smart, engaging, interesting people, and you can learn something from every single one of them. The good news is that there are far fewer than seven degrees of separation for most people in the city. So reach out. Connect. Meet people. Another great way to make real-life connections is to connect other people. (No, I’m not suggesting you play matchmaker.) Connecting people you know - whether they have similar interests or business ideas that align - can be rewarding, too.

5      I resolve to use my smartphone and tablet for good. Our generation gets chastised for having our noses in our phones all the time. But who says you can’t use your iPad to learn a new language, manage your time better or read articles and news while you’re on the go? Go beyond the call, text and game features. Use your calendar to add that event you just heard about or schedule a reminder to email that new contact. You know the saying... There’s an app for that. Use it!

These are my resolutions for the new year. Can you relate? Can these five little tips can make a big difference in your personal and professional life?

Shameless plug: Test out these skills at YPC’s Kick-Off Party on January 25 at The Exchange. There will be 300+ young professionals to meet, listen to, follow-up with and remember their names. Put it in your smartphone now so you don’t forget!

Cheers to a big year - Happy 2013!

-Emilee Richardson
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As a big resolution-maker *and* list-maker, I read your blog with great interest :-) Thank you for sharing your ideas - they all seem to tie into a theme of building stronger relationships, which I think we all can benefit from! And by posting them here, I'm sure you'll have lots of people to hold you accountable, also a good thing. Good luck with your YPC leadership!
-- Christi

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