Maximize Your Professional Potential
2017 came and went in the blink of an eye. While you might be wondering where the time went you will be relieved to know there are five simple resolutions to kickstart your professional growth in 2018. Most professionals do not realize how a few simple tweaks can significantly and positively alter their career trajectory.
Articulate Your Accomplishments
The first step for anyone wishing to move up the career ladder or seek new opportunities is to define and articulate your professional value. You are an asset to an organization. As such: you must understand how you impact the business. Consider your career thus far. What have you done to positively move the needle for the companies you have worked for? Even if it was simply doing your job well, that matters!
Ask yourself these questions:
• Have you taken an initiative to improve anything for the organization?
• Have you volunteered or been a part of an extracurricular work-sponsored activity?
• What challenges have you overcome that positively impacts the company you work for?
• Did you solve a problem (or multiple problems) to the benefit of your team or organization?
• Have you consistently performed well at your job and what is the positive impact?
• Were you a part of a project that added value to the organization? If so: how?
An accomplishment is anything you did to positively impact the organizations you have worked for. Even if your impact was simply doing your job well, the key is to articulate what that means for the company. Create an Impact Inventory. An Impact Inventory will allow you to propel forward with your career growth! As Rick Gillis says: “Your work does not speak for you. You do!”
Leverage Your Impact
Articulating your accomplishments is not ‘bragging’. You are simply stating facts. Stay away from fluff words but quantify your impact if you are able. I recommend that every professional make the habit of developing and updating their Impact Inventory once a quarter. Defining and owning your impact has several benefits:
1. You realize your own professional value and your impact.
2. You can leverage these accomplishments to move up or make a career shift.
3. Impact statements are critical in your resume to set you apart.
4. Articulating your accomplishments come in handy during performance reviews!
5. Your impact stories are important during interviews as examples of your professional value.
Develop Your Connections
Almost everyone I know cringes when they hear the word ‘network’. Networking is largely misunderstood. It’s not a card-collecting contest, it’s about making connections with others. Even so, most networking events are a waste of time for job seekers. Professionals overlook valuable networking opportunities right under their noses: having a conversation at work.
You don’t have to be chatty and gregarious to have an occasional conversation. Introverts have a special super power that makes them great ‘connectors’: they ask questions. People who are comfortable allowing others to talk are the best at forming relationships! Here are a few tips to grow your professional connections in 2018:
• Set a goal to meet and speak to one new person a week.
• Volunteer for a work-related organization or committee.
• Skip the ‘reply’ to that email and go speak to someone instead.
• Ask someone who appears stressed how you can help.
Lighten Up for Likeability
The term ‘likeability’ is becoming more common in the professional world. Thanks to the American cult of insecurity fostered by social media and TV idol comparisons – people are also more fragile than previous generations. If you strive for professional perfectionism, you will inevitably intimidate others and alienate them. People do not enjoy being reminded of their perceived shortcomings.
Likeability does not mean that you must become a social butterfly or ignore your work responsibilities. Rather, it is important to establish a balanced working perspective and maintaining a largely positive attitude. Think about it: do you want to be around someone that constantly complains or constantly boasts about themselves? Of course not! Likeability is simply becoming someone you would like to be around.
Write down some key attributes of your closest friends that you enjoy spending time with. Chances are those attributes are positive. Here are a few tips to cultivate likeability:
• Positive Inputs. Be aware of your inputs during the day and how they affect you. If you listen to argumentative radio news in the morning on the way to work or music with angry lyrics, this impacts your mood. Books on tape, comedy or screening your news feed can make a positive impact on your attitude.
• Smile, Sincerely. Smiling actually releases chemicals into your bloodstream that encourages a positive attitude. It’s tough to meet people’s eyes these days with the focus on smartphones, but greeting someone with a sincere smile makes a big difference.
• Listen First. You might have already figured out that being overly chatty isn’t the best way to present yourself. Most people connect better with those that listen well. Cultivate the art of asking appropriate questions and resisting the urge to interrupt.
Kick-Start Your Professional Growth in 2018
As John Maxwell says, “People won’t go along with you until they can get along with you.” Likeability is one of the major contributing factors to whether an individual is successful personally or professionally and will open the door to connecting with others. Understanding your value and leveraging your professional impact allows you to propel your professional career in the direction of your dreams.