Each year, CIO Magazine honors 100 companies and their CIOs for their technology achievements and innovative leadership. If your career has been in the doldrums or you're in-between jobs, the winning projects may inspire you to change industries, make new contacts, transition to a new role or suggest an initiative at your current company. Top coaches always credit their peers and predecessors with inspiring them to greatness, it's the same with great movie directors and authors. So don't just skim the surface; seek inspiration from IT movers and shakers as you read about the winning projects.

Identify Opportunities

If you need a job or you're stuck in a rut, peruse the job boards of winning companies or research openings at competing firms to find opportunities in progressive or expanding industries. Initiate a conversation by sending winning managers a congratulatory note or inquiring about upcoming projects. Search professional networking sites or alumni directories to spot colleagues or friends at winning companies then strike up a conversation about the winning project before inquiring about employment opportunities.

Emulate Success

If you've worked on projects that yielded similar savings or efficiencies, reference your experience and note the similarities to a winning project in cover letters or e-mails. Connecting your experience to the activities of highly regarded leaders or successful initiatives is a great way to bolster your own career. Use the project summaries as a model when describing your personal experience; since successful IT professionals link their activities to business outcomes in resumes and during interviews.

Boost Your Career

If your company might benefit from a similar project, offer to spearhead the due diligence process to get the ball rolling. Review the winning projects in team meetings to spark the innovation process or use the awards to win support and recognition for your ideas. If your CIO doesn't seek the limelight, volunteer to submit award applications for recently completed projects. You'll not only bolster the image of your company's IT department should you win, but you'll gain visibility and boost your own career in the process.

-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman