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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   August 2016

How to Reach Your Goals

Investing in your career can help you climb the rungs of success

How to Reach Your Goals

How much do you invest in your career? Whether you are just getting started in the mortgage industry or are a seasoned professional with a decade of experience, continual investment in improving yourself is vital to your career growth. Many people have career goals, but few invest enough time and resources to successfully climb the rungs of the corporate ladder and reach those goals.

Think about the person you were straight out of college. You knew everything then, right? How much has the world changed since you got your diploma? If you have been in the industry even a few years, the amount of new information you need to know can seem daunting. It may seem that others are passing you by on their way up the ladder. Often, the trouble simply lies in knowing where to start.

The first step in getting a handle on investing in your career is to analyze your current situation. When was the last time you learned something new? What skills and knowledge do you need to achieve your career goals or to stay ahead of other ladder climbers on market trends and regulatory affairs?

Investing in your career is about more than just moving up the corporate ladder, however. It also is about expanding your network and client base. These require an investment of time and personal resources as well. What do you currently do to get more referrals? Have you changed that routine in the past few years?

Once you have identified what you need to learn, you must figure out how and where to learn it, or find someone who can teach it to you. Fortunately, there are many ways to invest in your career and get answers to the questions you have been asking. Let’s take a look at three areas you can invest in: education, technology, and personal growth.

Finding educational opportunities

Education is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself. There are a variety of resources and avenues available to invest in education, including professional conventions and training, online corporate courses and webinars, and even companies specializing in mortgage-industry education.

Attending conventions sponsored by local or national associations and groups not only helps you feel more inspired, but those events also offer a broader education about your corner of the industry and provide great network resources as well. Attending conventions is one of the best ways to improve yourself and your career. Attend a few different ones to determine which is right for you.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) has several local and national events each year, as does NAMB, the Association of Mortgage Professionals. Check out their websites for event listings or look for convention calendars in industry magazines. If you are a millennial, consider joining the Young Mortgage Professionals Association. They are expanding rapidly and are looking for young professionals in the industry. Not only can you invest in your career by making important contacts, you also can help fuel the industry’s next generation.

Taking online training courses is another great way to expand your knowledge of industry topics. One relatively new and interesting way to further your education online is through what are called massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are offered by a wide variety of providers, including Harvard University, Stanford University and many other colleges around the world. You can even gain college credits or continuing-education units while increasing your skill sets, which can improve your resume and help you land your next job.

Many websites also offer online training and education. From large providers to individual experts, you can find somewhere online to learn a new skill or topic for free or at an affordable price. For example, numerous wholesale lenders offer webinars on their products and training from industry partners like mortgage-insurance companies.

Fannie Mae even makes a variety of resources available for originators and underwriters on its mortgage products. Fannie Mae has an extensive online marketing portal with flyers and guides in both English and Spanish.

These valuable resources can expand your career by expanding your knowledge, and they are freely available on the Fannie Mae website.

Finally, there are a number of for-profit education providers available online who offer education on a variety of mortgage and self-improvement topics for a fee. Not only can you find courses to help pass your Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) exam, you also can take classes on social media, programming, blogging, video-graphy and more, allowing you to add those skills to your repertoire.

Leveraging technology

Understanding and utilizing technology is mandatory for career growth today. The more familiar you are with mobile apps, computer programs and various systems, the more likely you will find a job and function at peak efficiency in that job.

The best way to show you know technology is to actually get in there and use technology. Following are a few important points to consider when using technology:

  • Delegate information management. If you’re getting bogged down managing minutia like tracking appointments, updating contacts, and scheduling follow-ups, consider investing in some help so you can minimize the time you spend on these tasks. In the past, you might have hired an assistant to handle these tasks. Today, it can be just as easy to find some great smart phone applications that allow you to perform these duties quickly.
  • Build Your Brand. Being branded online may be a cutting-edge practice now, but it will be a given in five years. Luckily, creating an online presence requires more time than money, although some services may cost you. Start by purchasing your own domain name and creating a web page to showcase your expertise. Create online profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites so people can find you there, and then keep them updated.
  • Maintain a professional presence. When potential employers or clients use a search engine to find you online, you want them to find useful information. Update your profiles regularly with current information and correct contact details. Be sure to include a great image of yourself to use as your online avatar. Lastly, monitor your online presence carefully so no one can find anything derogatory about you. Remember, everything you say on the internet stays there forever just waiting for someone to find it.

Realizing your own power

According to famous self-improvement guru Dale Carnegie, “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”

Investing in career growth requires investing in yourself and realizing the power that you possess. You are your future. You are the foundation for all that happens in your career, and it is up to you to continually invest in the power of you.

The first step in investing in your future is to raise your professional profile. Professional associations like the MBA, NAMB and others require time and money, but they are a good way to meet people in your industry who work for other companies and to make your presence known to them. Then take the extra step and serve on an association committee or board. This will give you valuable — and marketable — leadership experience.

Networking is always a given, but you need to assure your networking produces results. Collecting business cards doesn’t count as networking. Have goals in mind when you enter each networking event. Who will attend that you want to try to meet? Know how to introduce yourself so you are relevant to that person. Then, follow up by suggesting a meeting to keep promising contacts engaged.

It also is important to find people to help you make critical decisions in your career, so seek out coaches or mentors who can teach you about the business or offer informal advice. Don’t underestimate how important it is to identify someone willing to share advice and information. A mentor can make a real difference in a career. Use online research and in-person networking to help you find someone whose career you admire, who is a good match for your personality, and who is interested in you and your career. Finding a mentor can make a huge difference in how fast you get to the top of the ladder so you can reach your goals.

• • •

In the end it is important to keep your goals in mind. Don’t get caught up in the daily grind, only to wake up one day and realize you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped to do. Make a list of what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to include aspirational items — dream big and you’re more likely to wind up in the stars than on the ground.


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