SEA Professional Development Week: Sheena Horton on Using Data Visualization for Your Own Professional Development and Networking

My name is Sheena Horton, Senior Analyst at MGT of America, Inc., and Board Member for the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA). It is no surprise that the use of data visualization in reporting and marketing is thriving. Studies have shown that humans process visual information better and faster than text. Data visualization can provide viewers with easily understood, actionable data and be more engaging to an audience in instances when the use of simple text can fall short.

Lesson Learned: Extend your use of data visualization beyond the workplace, and apply your data design skills to evaluating and strengthening your professional network, skills, and career profile.

Hot Tip: Conduct a social network analysis to evaluate your professional social network to identify your strong connections. Look for areas in your field, specialization, geographic location, or position type and level (e.g. managerial or mid-level) where you may need to build better connections. Note the networks where you can make contributions, and identify the best connections for conducting outreach to learn more about a specific area or skill.

Rad Resources: There are numerous data visualization tools available online to help you get started analyzing your social network. Socilab can provide you with a high-level overview of your LinkedIn network connections to jumpstart your analysis.

Hot Tip: Use data visualization to take stock of your hard and soft skills to determine the range of your strengths and to pinpoint skills to develop. A simple mind map of your core skills can help you see where you can build upon your current skill set, or discover new skill areas to develop. Mind mapping adds focus to your professional development brainstorming, and helps to initiate an action plan.

Rad Resource: MindMeister is a popular and user-friendly mind mapping tool that can help you to start charting your skills quickly.

Hot Tip: Include data visualization in your resume, on LinkedIn, or on your professional website to showcase your skills and your career through visual storytelling. Determine where using data visualization can be useful based on your audience and the message you want to communicate. The visualization you select should display your data appropriately and engage your audience. A minimalist design works best; be careful not to go overboard. The key is to communicate your data simply and quickly.

Rad Resources: ResumUP and Vi are good starting resources to experiment with framing your data and gathering ideas for display. A visualization that works for one person’s data may not work as well with your own.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.