I’m generally not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. There’s too much hype and not enough follow-through. Still, there’s no denying that the changeover to a new year brings with it the anticipation of a fresh start.

Through discussions I’ve had with various surveying and mapping professionals at recent events and for this month’s Web exclusive feature, “Strategic Positioning,” it’s clear that few expect a substantial economic rebound to occur in the near future, particularly in the hard-hit land development sector. However, just about everyone agrees that there are steps individuals can take to position themselves for success in the coming year. Following are five resolutions that should be on everyone’s list for 2011.

1. Read more. Sure, I’m a bit biased on this one. But the bottom line is that technology is rapidly changing expectations for how data are collected and presented. One easy way to stay on top of the trends is by reading magazine articles, e-newsletters and posts in a social networking community such as RPLS.com. Even if you’re not ready to purchase the “latest and greatest” technology innovation, knowing what’s available and how other firms are applying these tools can help you make wise decisions regarding future investments.

2. Find a niche. If you’re having trouble competing on price, take a good look at your service offerings. Is there an area in which you can apply your existing skills to meet a new need? Some of the most successful professionals I’ve talked to have the same background as “the average surveyor,” but they’ve found innovative ways to serve different clients and reach new markets.

3. Make new friends. Networking has always been important, but in today’s economy, it’s more vital than ever. That architect, attorney or energy substation operations manager that you strike up a conversation with at a community meeting or in line at the coffee shop just might be your link to the next big opportunity.

4. Attend a national or international event. Travel can be difficult to justify when budgets are tight. But attending events that attract attract a broad range of professionals is an excellent way to expand your network and discover new markets.

5. Learn a new skill. Whether you take advantage of dealer training opportunities to learn how to operate a new piece of equipment or take a course in geodetic control, marketing or business management, honing your skills will give you an edge in today’s highly competitive economy.

No one can predict whether we’ll see a true economic recovery this year. But each of us can position ourselves to pursue new opportunities. After all, determining to be proactive in our personal and professional lives is one resolution that everyone can keep.

P.S. POB has a new look for the New Year! We’re also launching some new features designed to help you stay on top of trends and gain valuable business me a line at pobeditor@bnpmedia.com and let me know what you think.

Share your thoughts on this column at www.pobonline.com or www.rpls.com. To contact the editor, send an e-mail to pobeditor@bnpmedia.com.