If one of your resolutions for 2013 includes advancing your career, today’s post is for you. In fact, all of us could use a quick refresher moving boldly forward into the New Year. Here are a few tips to refresh your business skills and help you be that special person who lights up a room, leaves a lasting impression and most importantly, motivates those around you through your ability to put others at ease:
Exude optimism — Approach your clients and colleagues with a glass “half full” outlook. Being optimistic in business involves more than a cheery persona…it means being solution-driven. If there is an obstacle in your path, rather than going to your boss and explaining why you can’t do it, brainstorm several options for resolution. If you found 2012 passing you by for a career advance or you have found yourself feeling defeated over a lost project or promotion, take measured steps to improve your current skill set so that next time around, you get the recognition you deserve.
Be humble regardless of your success — I often say “Money doesn’t buy class, only a great pair of shoes.” Regardless of your bank account, your character and the way you interact with those you come into contact with is the true measure of success. If you are beginning your career, remember that when you put forth hard work and learn your business from the bottom upwards, you are often a better leader than someone who has been handed their family’s business on a silver or leather coffee tray.
Don’t be afraid to fail — On a similar note, how you handle daily awkward moments tells someone a great deal about how you handle life in general. Accept that you are not perfect, you will have lessons to learn up the chain of command; be open to instruction and don’t take yourself so seriously unless it’s a critical matter. Life will be much more interesting when you are open to new challenges and experiences. If you are always worried about failure, you won’t take the steps to succeed. Take a few calculated risks in your career, win or lose, you will have life skills and experience.
Take pride in every small detail — So you are working at your first job and you have very little space or power. You share an office with 2 other people and most of the time you are behind a desk or on the telephone. Treat every task as if it is the most important task you will ever have. Every incoming call and every letter that crosses your desk is one step closer to your next big move up the ladder. Treat your office mates with the same respect you would your boss if he or she were sitting across the room from you. Making an attempt to do your best, even under less than optimal circumstances shows those with power how you will conduct business as you grow in the company.
Be the first to volunteer — We’ve all been in meetings where there’s lots of talk but no one volunteering to get the task done. Offer to take the lead and recruit others to do the same. Whether it’s spearheading cleanup at the local park or painting the front office lobby, offering to do something not on your job descriptions says that you are a team player and can be counted on to take responsibility outside of your realm of expertise.
Follow up with people in your network – Make an effort to meet new people and engage with others at networking and corporate events. Find those you are interested in meeting and introduce yourself. Ask questions and show interest in what they are saying. Rather than offering them a business card, follow up with a telephone call or short email letting them know how you enjoyed making a new connection. Focus on making a genuine connection that can turn into a business friendship and ally you can call if you need advice or direction.
Carry yourself with confidence – Stand up straight and look the other person in the eye. Imagine you are reaching up to the sky, mouth wide open, catching rain drops with your tongue. Now bring your head back down and this is the posture you should have when you are speaking with someone across from you. Chin up, shoulders back, self-assured and attentive. Continue with eye contact approximately 60% of the time and you are showing that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.
Dress like a million – You may not have a million (yet), but wear everything you have in your closet with confidence and pride. Of course, that means making wise decisions when it comes to buying office wear; experiment with what is in your closet and add key pieces. You will find that you have more options than you may think . A navy pant suit, a few white cotton tees, a nice pair of pumps, some alternating sweaters and a dark colored skirt will start you off on the right foot.
Prioritize your time — When your workday is over, make every attempt to unplug from technology. Take a few moments to connect with friends and focus on your family at home. Make every effort to give each moment your best. Start a nightly routine that includes enough sleep. You are a better employee when you are rested and recharged.
Here’s to a successful 2013!