The economy may be recovering, but that doesn’t mean that workers are swimming in raises and promotions. If you want to move forward in your career, you’ll have to get creative and make opportunities for yourself. Here are a few things to do, daily, weekly, and monthly, to build professional relationships and lay the foundation for a better career.
(Photo Credit: pfarrell95/Flickr)
1. Daily: Listen more than you speak.
One of the little ironies of life is that we need to listen most when we’re least likely to do it. For example, if you’re impatient about a promotion that isn’t materializing, your focus might narrow to looking for the next opportunity, the next problem to fix — or worse, the next management mistake that’s preventing you from reaching your goal.
Don’t shut off your ears while you’re thinking about how to make a case for a new position or project. To get ahead, you need to keep learning; to keep learning, you need to keep listening.
Also, everyone loves someone with good listening skills. It’s a rare quality, and one that builds strong relationships. People who like you are more likely to want to help you — or hire you.
2. Weekly: Do something for someone else.
Remember the Favor Test, the principle that says you should only accept LinkedIn invitations if you’d be willing to do a favor for that person? Think of this as the Favor Test in real life.
Lending a hand to others is more than just good karma: it ups the chances that there will be someone to help you, the next time you get behind on a deadline. Plus, it feels good to do good things. The time it takes to help with a project or have coffee with a former colleague who’s looking for work is worth it.
Just make sure you’re not putting your own needs and goals behind everyone else’s. This is an area in which there can definitely be too much of a good thing.
3. Monthly: Map skills to goals.
While you’re listening and connecting with others, pay attention to what you learn, both about what kinds of work excite you the most and what types of opportunities there are (at your company and other organizations) for someone with your interests.
Pay particular attention to the gaps between where you are now and where you think you’d like to be. You can acquire new skills and proficiencies. Just because you can’t jump straight to your dream job today, doesn’t mean that you won’t get there soon. Figure out what stands between you and your goal, and then set about taking steps that will bring you closer.
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