Love What You Do
Career success begins with having a winning attitude. Learn to love what you’re doing — or look for something else that fires your passions. Positive energy can be infectious and draw the right people and opportunities to you. If for some reason you don’t know what you love, start experimenting until you find the right thing.
Successful people typically have the best mentors — find at least one person you respect and ask them to mentor you. If you don’t find the right individual for this in your own workplace, join trade associations where you can network your way toward finding mentorship.
Chum up with the Boss
You should also take the time to get to know your boss, as this will provide you with more rewards than you might even realize. Find out what he or she expects so that you can work more efficiently toward meeting their goals — and you can in turn communicate what your own career objectives. That way, you can work together toward mutually beneficial outcomes. See if you can schedule regular discussions with your boss, and prepare for them throughout the week by keeping a list of topics you wish to cover.
Cultivate Business Friendships
In addition to getting closer to your boss, it’s a really good idea to maintain business friendships with current and former coworkers, plus people you meet over the course of doing business. Growing your social network will enable you to learn about more job opportunities — either through promotions at your current employer or by jumping to another company. Make a point of checking in with people via regular emails, phone calls, or meeting up in person.
Do Lunch, Coffee, or Snacks
Try to go out to lunch or coffee with coworkers every day. Make a goal of never eating alone at your desk. This is a great opportunity to talk to mentors, catch up with peers, and network — just remain open to work-related socializing during your lunch hour.
That said, another way to get closer to your coworkers might call for a bit of spoiling their appetites for lunch: Keep candy or snacks on your desk and you’ll probably get more visitors come by to socialize. These conversations will enrich your experience at work and open up lots of doors for you.
Join Industry Associations
No matter what you do for a living, there are others who have similar gigs — and you’ll meet a lot more of them if you join a trade association. This is will expand your horizons, opening you up to a wide variety of new contacts. It will also help you keep up with the newest developments in your chosen field and find out about opportunities for advancement.
Once you join an industry association, you’ll be able to find out about events that will also advance your career. Sign up to attend seminars, conferences, presentations that will provide you with expertise and networking opportunities.
Apply the 80/20 Rule
Working smarter means pinpointing the areas within your job that are essential to your group and to the company. Once these have been identified, focus most of your resources in those areas. Your productivity will surge once you put 80% of your resources into the 20% of your work that’s most important.
Make Lists and Schedules
Prioritize the most important tasks by making a daily to-do list that only includes things that you need to do today — and before you end work for the day, prepare your list for tomorrow. Then schedule your day down to the hour so that you get more things done. If you come up with a variation on this system of lists and scheduling that works better for you, go for it.
Attitudes about punctuality — or lack thereof — tend to vary from one company to the next. Some employers expect everyone to come in on time and frown upon tardiness. Other companies might only concern themselves with whether people get to meetings on time and otherwise not show much concern what time people first get to the office. Regardless of whether your corporate culture is lackadaisical about timing or not, if you make a point of showing up on time or early to every meeting, people will notice and your reputation will benefit.
Whatever you might be putting off doing, just stop right there. Look for patterns in your procrastination: Do you tend to put off certain types of tasks more than others? Identify any commonalities between the things you might procrastinate and you make the first step toward stopping the habit. Come up with solutions to stop procrastinating, and of course, you’re going to be a lot more productive.
Whether you do it by taking classes or by reading books, there are always new skills to learn that will advance your career. Maybe it’s just a software application you don’t know how to use yet, or maybe it’s something that might take you toward getting a certification or degree. You will continue to get ahead if you keep learning things that are relevant to your field. You could also take a class in speed reading so you learn how to absorb information more quickly. Another great way to cover a lot of territory: premium subscriptions to LinkedIn include full access to the Lynda online learning site, where you can study anything your heart desires — including the item below.
Improve Your Communication Skills
Anything you can do to improve your communication skills — both written and spoken — will help you get ahead. You could read books on writing, public speaking, or even the fine art of editing one’s own documents. Or take classes on any of the aforementioned areas. There’s also Toastmasters clubs, where you learn how to give better speeches for a very reasonable fee; some employers sponsor Toastmasters chapters and cover participants’ dues because the skills taught are so valuable.
Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
Always keep your resume current because opportunities can come up quickly — you might hear from recruiters or be asked to provide a resume for a speaking engagement. Make sure whatever you put in your resume also appears on your LinkedIn profile. And if you still don’t have an account on the professional networking website, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Make sure you take advantage of all the latest features on the site in order to remain marketable.
Follow Industry News
Make a habit of paying attention to the news that’s relevant to your field of work, and ideally devote an hour per workday to this task without cutting into your on-the-job efforts. If possible, read relevant trade publications during your commute to work. Once you start following relevant industry news, you’ll find it helps your career advancement over time.
The amount of time you work doesn’t matter as much as how focused you are when you work. If your concentration starts to drift, take a break. Get up and stretch, take a short walk or even a quick nap — and when you come back to your task at hand, you’ll be able to work more efficiently. Your productivity will dramatically increase if you schedule breaks at regular intervals.
Pay More Attention to Appearances
Some industries are more casual about appearances than others, but even if you are lucky enough to work somewhere that has a casual atmosphere, there are still things you can do to make a better impression. Try cleaning your desk once a week if you don’t already. Or dress a little nicer on the days you work in the office. People will take these things as signs that you care more about being in the workplace. If your work includes dealing directly with customers or business partners, dressing nicer will also be a big hit.
Advance Your Career, One Step at a Time
There are plenty of things that you can begin doing that will advance your career, as the above list shows. Pick a couple that you know you need to work most upon and keep at it. The more that you try to improve yourself, the more opportunities that will present themselves.
Readers, how is your career these days? What have you done to try to improve your work situation?
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