There are some simple things you can do to take your career to new heights of success. These seven steps to a great career will get you better results — they include:
1. Create a “Master List” of your accomplishments. Each week come up with three or four things you got done that you can quantify and add them to your list. Then organize your list into functional categories based on what you do more of or what you do best. For example: leadership, operations, crisis-management, PR, writing, etc. What you’ll find is that, over time, you will have a few key areas where your skills and accomplishments shine. You’ll also use this list to draw from when you look for another job, seek a promotion, apply to serve on a board, etc.
2. Develop a personal business card. I know that sounds contrary, but the intent is you have a personal card you can pass along to people you want to stay in touch with should you ever leave your present job. Too often, we lose track of people when they move on, get downsized, retire or their company is acquired. Put your personal contact info on the card and perhaps a nice headshot photo so people remember who you are and what you look like. Make this a fairly current photo. (Put your ego aside.)
3. Keep a contacts list on your personal computer. Do not rely on LinkedIn as a way to archive contacts and their phone, email, etc. Create your own list and keep it up to date. Every week, reach out to one or two people to see how they’re doing. You don’t need to make a coffee or lunch date with all these folks, but some you may want to reconnect in person. You could end up doing business with them or being able to help them through a tough time. Either way, this is one way to keep your network alive.
4. Review your social media posts and connections. IF you use social media (and not everyone does) occasionally scan your posts to ensure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot with something you published a few years back. You may also want to revisit the profile photos of those you are connected to and make sure they aren’t reflecting poorly on you. The old adage is true, “Birds of a feather flock together” and potential hiring managers and HR folks now routinely check social media for inappropriate content. You may also want to lock down your profile settings so only your friends have access to your posts. But those mischievous HR folks can still figure out how to learn more about you, so beware!
5. Learn how to tell stories. I don’t mean fibs. I mean organized, succinct tales of your best accomplishments. Use my CARLA Concept™ as a way to structure your story in preparation for that unexpected interview or lunch conversation. So think back over the “best of the best” things you’ve done in your present job or years ago and structure it this way: C = the challenge or change you faced; A = the actions you took; R = the results you achieved (quantify them); L = what were the lessons learned?; A = what’s another approach now that you know what you know?
6. Cultivate a long range mindset. Always be open to opportunities but think long-term. What is your long term desire or goal? Too many of us hop from one job to another without any kind of strategic plan in place. I’m guilty of doing it too! Set your sights on something that is achievable but will require that you stretch yourself to make it come true. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later on, but at least you’ll have greater control over the direction you’re heading. Better than wandering from one job to the next with no roadmap to guide you.
7. Always ask the second best question in the world. It is: “Who else should I be talking to?” (The #1 best question? It’s “Can you do better than that?”) Every time you do an interview or have a coffee meeting or casual chat with someone about your work or their work, ask them that question. This way you’ll set up a string of connecting “pearls” with people who are referred. You will greatly expand your network and your career this way!
No matter which of the seven steps to a great career you choose — and you may choose them all — you will make steady progress towards professional success. These strategies will serve you well, no matter what phase you are in on the climb up that proverbial ladder!