Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
Being that I have been redesigning my garden in the Florida summer heat, I was thinking of how the garden applies to networking. Networking is about growing and cultivating relationships!
In networking, you need to begin planting a seed: what do you and the person have in common? How can you work together towards a common goal? Or perhaps you are planting a small plant and waiting for it to grow (maybe you met someone through a mutual connection and some roots have already formed.)

Without sunshine and water, a plant will quickly waste away and die. Have you “watered” your professional relationships through email, phone, or a meeting? Have you “fertilized” your relationship by sharing something that the recipient may enjoy?

Networking is not about what you need, but what the recipient is interested in. Just like you are not going to drink Miracle Gro or feed your gardenia filet mignon, you need to identify what is desired by your network. It’s not about focusing on what others are able to do for you.

Once the garden is planted, watered, and cared for, it will provide you with years of fruit, flowers, and shade. As your network is tended to, people will reach out to you to assist you when there is something they can do to help you!

And if you are as crazy as I am to garden in 100 degree and humid weather, please drink lots of cold water and wear sunscreen and a hat!