By Igshaan Soules
When it comes to careers and success, nobody really wants to stagnate. As a manager, leader or entrepreneur you will most certainly think about how to advance to the next level. However, promotion doesn’t always happen automatically. You need to take a proactive role and employ a certain amount of strategy in order to create opportunities for you to advance up the corporate or business ladder. Following are my top career advancement tips.
Identify Your Advancement Goals
Before you can reach your career goals, you must be clear about what they are. Start by making a written list of goals that you would like to achieve. Be sure to break them down into short and long-term objectives.
Also note the time-frame for reaching each goal. For example, “I would like to be promoted to the next level” is a vague and ambiguous goal with no substance.
However, when your goal is, “I want to be Finance Director by 1 April 2014.” or “I want to be the Finance Director for ABC Company by 1 April 2014”, it is far more substantive.
Writing down your goals, reviewing and embodying them regularly will help you stay focused on taking the necessary action(s) to reach them.
Help Others Succeed
Reciprocity is a powerful force in the business world. Don’t throw away a chance to help other people reach their goals. Not only does it just feel right, but helping others is a smart professional move, as well.
When you help others succeed, they feel compelled to help and support your career development efforts. More importantly, they become important allies and advocates for you when you expect it least and when it matters most.
Helping others succeed says a lot about some of what you are willing to bring to the table.
Position Yourself as an Authority
The professional association in your chosen field is one of the most powerful advancement tools you can use. Not only do most offer continuing education opportunities, but they also allow you to get acquainted and network with some of the top professionals in your field. The key is to be active and build valuable relationships every time you meet at a function.
However, making small talk is not enough. Offer them something of value, like a case study or white paper or some insights from a recent project you had some success with. When you offer something of value to others, making connection and building relationships become much easier. More importantly, it positions you as an expert in your particular field.
Extend these conversations beyond the networking meeting into online forums such as LinkedIn Groups or publish your insights in professional publications.
Take on Challenging Assignments
You know the saying, “fortune favors the brave”. My biggest career and financial success has come about because I was willing to take on challenges others were afraid of.
One of my clients recently missed out on a major career advancement opportunity because she failed to put up her hand for an assignment she really wanted. She thought (and expected) others would know she was the perfect candidate for the job. Turned out someone else was more eager to get it.
Those willing to take on challenging assignments are not only noticed, but also highly valued. Become the “go to” person in your company whom others can count on to tackle specific problems or challenges. When you are, you will be well on your way to advancing your career in record time.
Communicate Your Way To Success
Being upfront about your career goals is important. Communicate your goals to those around you so they won’t be left guessing about what it is you aspire to do. Go back to the earlier example I made of my client. Talking about your career goals is also a good way to invite valued guidance from others.
When you do so, you open yourself up to potential opportunities where you can showcase your skills and knowledge.
Learn Your Way To Success
Learn the skills needed to function well at the next level. It is highly unlikely that the skills and knowledge you have now is all you will need for your next role. Understand what skills, knowledge and behaviours are required to operate at the next level.
Then, begin to show these skills, knowledge and behaviours in your work. When you do this you are in an ideal position to be considered should the next level position become available.
Be willing to invest your own money
High achievers invest in themselves. Many managers will only seek out training and development opportunities when their company pays for it.
This is a big mistake.
Your company has a limited amount of money. It will spend that money only on individuals that have demonstrated the potential for advancement.
Invest at least 2% of your annual income in either formal training (e.g. A Leadership Development Program) or development activities (e.g. career or executive coaching). Doing so will ensure you have a personal and professional edge over others when that next big opportunity comes along.
In order to progress up the professional ladder, you must be willing to take an active role in the career development process. Follow these tips to get your career advancing in the right direction.