Do you want a higher job in the health information technology field? Seventy to eighty percent of new positions are gained by networking, according to Deb Busser, president and executive coach at Energy Spring Leadership, a career development consultancy.

During a session at Health Data Management’s Most Powerful Women in HIT conference last week in Boston, Busser recalled getting a job straight out of college and being good at it, but soon being bored. She got another job and was promoted three times in 10 years, but still not satisfied, so she returned to graduate school to study sociology.

To be ready for a higher job requires a commitment to professional development to intentionally grow and evolve, Busser said. “You need to cross pollinate.”

That means attending conferences to further education while building new professional relationships, stoking or re-establishing existing relationships and reading relevant industry publications. The higher you go, the more your professional development rests with you, Busser warned. “In my view, at the executive level there is no career development.”

Busser noted a current IT client who realized all she was doing was fighting fires and falling behind rather than staying current. With help, she learned how to stay current and to let her staff step up and show what they could do. Now, “She knows she is all in and in control.”

Staying in control means building relationships so you have support services when needed, Busser said. “Being able to connect with others in your field is good for you and your company. Your value is enhanced by what you know and who you know.”

However, don’t expect professional growth to happen within your comfort zone because the status quo is always changing and you must change with it, Busser added. “You have to actively push beyond your comfort zone and change just as the market is changing. Being deliberate and intentional always leads to growth.”

While seeking support via relationships outside your company, don’t assume opportunities to learn within the company are slim as there may be more opportunities than you realize. “Where is your edge; what one step can you take?” she asked. That step could be reflecting for five minutes at the end of the day on what went well and what did not go well, and learn from the day’s experiences.

Above all, if your heart is calling on you to do something else, heed the call, Busser advised. “With deliberation and intentions, you will become a leader.”

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