Your Next Step

By Susan Varty, Managing Partner

7 actions you can take right now to get promoted, recruited or go out on your own!

  1. Talk Company Strategy: Start thinking strategically, in order to have a more direct impact on your sales and partnerships. People who bring in the money get noticed and promoted. Thinking tactically and focusing only on the needs of the day will make it harder to take the kind of initiative that leads to promotion. So step up: offer ideas; propose options; join new projects; and be sure to benchmark the data to demonstrate your analytical mindset no matter what the outcome. The best workplaces are those that encourage and support ambition.
  2. Budget for Lunch: Ask for introductions and go out on Friday lunches with people who work at other companies (not co-workers or friends). Set aside funds specifically for this purpose and think of it as an investment in yourself. People are more likely to join you (and feel less pressure), if you say it’s on you – “It’s my treat!” These one-to-one lunches can result in career leaps or sales opportunities if you are in business for yourself. Alternatively, consider participating in an intramural sport you enjoy. You’ll meet a variety of people on a regular basis, and familiar faces every week will encourage conversations. Those conversations can lead to opportunities. Joining an athletics club can offer the same benefits, not the least of which is a boost in health!
  3. Talk to Accountants: Know your financial terms: revenue vs. profit, credit memo, fixed, variable, and accrued expenses, etc. When you talk numbers, you turn heads. Bookkeeping is your best friend as business owner, too – every day I start with a coffee and categorize my daily online transactions. This allows me to ensure enough cash flow for operations and sufficient funds to set aside for taxes. If you work for a company, increasing your financial know-how will also give you an edge, since companies are always looking to increase sales or cut costs to grow the bottom line.
  4. Play Connect the Dots: News from one company has an impact on another. Stay on top of trends and news and reach out to senior management with short emails with links. People want to be in the know and will appreciate a concise and proactive approach to information sharing– even if they don’t have time to reply. Set up Google alerts and log into LinkedIn more often. I tailor my Facebook feed to be news-oriented by “liking” news outlets and subscribe to a US-based news summary mailing list called theSkimm. Again, knowledge is power. Power leads to promotion.
  5. Avoid Phone Phobias: Recruiters (and top execs) tend to contact individuals by phone when they shortlist for interviews – don’t keep your number hidden. If you have to, mask your number or get a new line or voicemail box, but always make yourself available by phone. Tip: Call recruiters back. Don’t email! Recruiters like to gauge your communication skills and are more likely to shortlist you if you impress them on the phone. Moreover, many people tend to avoid the phone out of fear, self-consciousness, or preference so by calling others, you’re likely to stand out and build more long-term rapport. To quote Michael Port, “always have something to invite people to.” To that I would add, “by phone.”
  6. Know Software Shortcuts: Do you use Word? Excel? Take an advanced course, so you can create professional documents that are impressive and complete work faster. On the job, in terms of your resume or for proposals as a business owner, word-processing savvy gives you a significant edge over two-finger typists: great content in a polished document always goes to the top and makes a strong impression. Another tip: use the Delay Delivery button under new message Options in Microsoft Outlook to encourage responses within working hours. With Delay Delivery, you can control some of the “email overwhelm.”
  7. Save Money, Get Organized: These two items are connected, because you can’t do one without the other. It will help you get to your next step and allow you to take the risks you never thought were possible. With money in the bank, you can pay for unexpected expenses or a staff lunch. You can pay for extra help with your resume or a virtual assistant, even if you work full-time. There are so many options and tools out there. I live and breathe using the following: AsanaQuickbooksEvernoteMailChimpHighrise CRMGoogle Alerts, and Google Calendar.

photo credit: Christian Barette. Aout. photopin. (license).

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