By Raena Murakami, Public Relations and Communications Co-Director
One of FEW’s flagship events is the biennial FEW Career Strategies Seminar (CSS), a full-day professional development event led by experienced, successful female business leaders and mentors. The event consists of workshops and skill-building sessions to equip participants with the tools necessary to enhance their lives and careers in Japan. CSS goes back to 1990, when FEW began to organize a day presenting Career Opportunities.
As part of our History series, we’ve taken a look back at past CSS events, including ones featured in our 20th Anniversary newspaper, and have collected a few of the top insights from our expert presenters over the years. These tips give a new perspective on ways that we can maximize our unique potential, and enhance both our professional and personal lives.
Click here for more information on past CSS events, and here for future FEW and Women’s Start-Up Club events. And don’t miss our Dream, Girl screening, in collaboration with Mums in Business, featuring a panel of Tokyo-based women entrepreneurs on April 26th!
- Take the leap and answer yes
Many of us have thought about making the next step in our careers — whether it’s a promotion in our current work, a transition to a new field, or a completely new start as a business owner—but either don’t know where to start or talk ourselves out of taking the leap to follow our dreams.
As FEW Strategic Partner Sara Furuya said at our 2014 CSS, fight your self-doubt, which asks, “Who me?” and reframe it with “Hell yes!” One of the most important ways to rise to your full potential is to not hold yourself back from opportunities and instead to Lean In.
Think about what motivates you, your strengths, and how your strengths can be valuable assets to your next career move. There are no perfect plans or paths, but living your dream career all starts with taking the first step.
- Tell your story
As Helen Iwata, founder of Sasuga! Communications, said at our 2014 CSS, “Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.” Communicating your value, strengths, and ideas to others in a way that is engaging and keeps them interested is key when building a business.
Your story, vision, and goals are what drive you. It’s important not only to develop your story, but to hone your communication skills so that your story also resonates with others.
It’s said that it takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone from a first impression, so we better make sure we’re putting out the right one, both personally and professionally, as described in Heike Geiling’s (Beyond Global Mindset and Cross-Cultural Competence) session at our 2016 CSS. Be confident and voice your ideas and mission — the impression you make will help you rise in your career.
- Manage your resources
The key to a successful career is managing your personal resources such as time, money, health, and relationships. It’s crucial to take care of yourself and do what you can to maintain a healthful balance in your life to help you be your best self for your clients.
We need to understand how to nurture ourselves physically, emotionally, and financially. The real world is unpredictable and complex, and to maintain our energy levels, we also need resilience, according to Tiziana Alamprese, Marketing Director, Fiat Chrysler Japan (2014 CSS).
These various elements in our lives are closely linked, and keeping the right balance will help keep your body, mind, and career healthy. Forming good habits is an investment that will help you now and in the future.
- Nurture your brand
What does a potential employer or customer see when they Google you or look at your meishi? It’s not only important to find and develop the right visual appearance for your business, but to present a consistent and authentic image, especially online, as Jennifer Shinkai of en world group explained at our 2016 CSS.
Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be. Ensure that your corporate identity is one that you’re passionate about and represents your needs, wishes, and ideas, according to Barbara Lang of atelierfünfdrei (2016 CSS).
Successful brands have personalities and get noticed— know what you want to achieve, who you want to target, and how you want to be seen. It will help tell your story even better.
- Create your own network
As members of the FEW community know well, having a supportive, sharing, diverse, and vibrant network can ignite our own careers as well as that of others. It all starts with developing relationships and maximizing your networking opportunities.
Our networks can give us the support and inspiration we need to jump-start our careers and provide us with valuable resources and connections to grow our businesses. Many stories from women at our CSS and Women’s Start-up Events include examples of how advice or references from networking helped launch their careers.
Once you’ve made new connections, it’s important to keep up the relationship and not let good contacts slip away. Whether you keep contact by sending a note on LinkedIn, meeting for coffee, or sending an article related to your conversations — you never know when that person may next reach out with a new career opportunity.
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