Steps for Growing Your Career
Last month we looked at a process to create a career vision. If you missed that article, you can read it here; Once you have a vision of where you want your career to go, we need to find ways to action your future.
My first recommended action is establishing a mentor. Let me phrase that in a different way – it’s establishing mentoring relationships. Think about the people in your network whose advice you seek regularly, input you crave, and time you value. What skills, knowledge, or behaviors do they have push you to learn or refine in your own approach?
Now, we need to build a ‘mentor’ relationship. This isn’t about Julie Roberts standing in the Notting Hill bookstore asking Hugh Grant to be her mentor. This is about seeking out the person when you want advice from. Just remember, relationships are created in person, not over email.
You want to find ways to engage the person. Ask them to look over something – just make it quick and targeted. What specific input do you want? You can always get coffee with your chosen mentor. But think about quick ways that don’t tax that person’s schedule. If you see them in the pantry, stop and check-in. Spend time getting to know one another to build a long-term relationship.
Next, start looking for growth, as opposed to a high salary or a title. If you look for and find growth opportunities, the rest will naturally folow. Look at your vision and goals for the year. What projects can you get involved in? What skills do you need to learn and what behaviros do you need to modify? Who can help you learn these new traits?
As you review your interests and future career goals, analyze the value of them to the organization. Does it fit into the current or future initiatives of the company? Ask yourself if you are truly needed here. Will your goals be valued?’ If your answer is yes, seek opportunities within the company. If not, you may need to get more creative with how you build the experience.
Our last action is to have a presence and be present. When you are in the office, it’s time to showcase your investment in your career and company, represent your personal brand, and share your knowledge and skills. This is the time to contribute in meetings, ask questions, join working groups or projects outside of your scope, and build relationships. Being present also means showing off your professional investment. Do great work, meet deadlines, and communicate when things need more time or explanation.
Having a presence can be created through the list above. But what does ‘having a presence’ mean? Having a presence inspires determination from others, signifies that you are capable and reliable, and gives senior leaders the confidence in your abilities to accomplish goals and manage projects beyond your scope.
So much of our presence is shared in our verbal communication. How quickly and effectively we respond in meetings, discussions, and even over email is an important skill to refine. It’s important to build your communication skills so you can showcase your knowledge, ideas, and skills effectively. Presence takes a tumble when we forget about the non-verbal. You can be present and engaged even when not actively talking to others. Be a great listener, show-off your calm demeanor. The key to maintaining our presence is to be well-prepared for the day and for our interactions with others.
Let’s make ‘look for mentors, growth, and presence’ our mantra for March. Take a few minutes each day to center yourself and plan the day ahead. When you are more prepared, you have more mental space you have to recognize opportunities, meet new people, and show-off your commitment and brand.