Seven Career Tips for Succeeding in Corporate America
I've had many great mentors who have shared their advice along the way. In honor of the recent Women's History Month, I've pulled together a list of my top tips.
1) “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
My first boss out of college used to say this all the time. It stuck with me. When I am getting ready to do something new, I always look to push myself a bit farther, knowing that the more I prepare, the better my odds are for success.
I always prepare and learn as much as I can before going into a big meeting or doing something new. With Google, YouTube, and my access to Gartner research and experts, there’s no reason to not be prepared.
[Related: Support System = Success]
2) Begin with the end in mind.
It’s important to prioritize your time and work with the end in mind. I have a three-year-old daughter, and my career is more complicated than ever. Juggling parenthood and a job at a large company is not an easy task. Before having kids, I would take on smaller tasks and worry less if they weren’t all big-impact items.
Now, I aggressively prioritize to make sure everything I’m spending time on is driving toward business results. I use a variety of productivity tools to help me, including leveraging the bullet list, scheduling my work and personal life a week in advance, and iPhone reminders.
All of these tools keep me on track and focused on my goals. I'd recommend reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for more on this concept.
3) All leaders wear clothes, too.
Whenever I get nervous about a big presentation or meeting someone influential, my dad always reminds me that they have to put their pants on one leg at a time just like I do.
Everyone, no matter their success, is still human. Keeping in mind that leaders and famous people are just like you and me helps to calm my nerves.
4) Practice, practice.
If you have to deliver a presentation, practice. If you are called for an interview, practice. If you are going to have a tough conversation, practice.
When I host live Q&A interviews with senior leadership, I write out what I want to say and practice in the mirror, in the car, and to friends. Also, I watch how other successful speakers talk, and I take trainings on how to present effectively.
[Related: Got Discipline?]
5) Go on “virtual coffees.”
Build relationships with everyone you meet. Learn their story and how they got to where they are today in their careers. You never know what you might learn, and you never know whom you might need at some point in your career.
I proactively set up 30-minute “virtual coffees” with people through LinkedIn each month and reach out to other employees from different departments for coffee. People love sharing about their careers and are receptive to giving you 30 minutes of their time.
6) Dress the part.
It’s essential to invest in a good work wardrobe. Make sure you have one outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks. I call this my power outfit, and I use it for job interviews, meetings with leadership, and big presentations.
What you wear should be on par with the leaders in your field. Overall, if you feel good about the way you dress, you will feel more confident at work, which will help you succeed.
7) Promote your accomplishments.
One thing I’ve learned in my career is that you have to promote and up-sell your work. For the longest time, I just worked hard and waited for a pat on the back. Now, I make sure I have a 30-second elevator pitch highlighting the importance and impact of all my projects.
Leaders and people, in general, are busy and distracted. If it takes you ten minutes to explain what you do and why it’s important, that’s too long. Get your sales pitch down, and be able to speak to why your projects are important. If have you trouble with self-promotion, pretend you are creating it for a friend. Either way, learn to communicate your value.
Lindsey Ault-Authier runs Gartner’s conferences social media program.
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