While some people settle into a job without any interest in advancement, others are go-getters with the drive for professional development that goes beyond a daily grind.
If you’re the former, this article isn’t for you. But if the thought of pushing yourself to constantly be the best you can be really gets you going, then we have 10 amazing tips to help you expand your career, while improving yourself along the way!
1 – There’s more ways than one
You want to move up in your company, or your industry as a whole. And while many businesses offer a vertical ladder to scale when it comes to promotions, there’s more than one way to climb the corporate tree.
Sometimes a lateral move, say to a different department or to a position tangential to your current one, can open up new possibilities that you need to reach your full potential. It’s also a great way to expand your skill set, while learning more about the functions of your company. If your goal is management, a complete understanding of the business operations is key to showing you’re qualified to lead.
2 – Embrace different perspectives
You may feel negative reactions to people who see things differently than you. It can lead to arguments, and avoidance in the workplace.
But avoiding people you butt heads with is actually counterproductive to your development. Embrace team members who seem difficult at first, because challenging yourself to understand alternative points of view will allow you to work empathetically when it comes to new ideas.
It will also force you to defend your own ideas, which will make you better at expressing and refining your viewpoints. You may even potentially realize an error in reasoning on your part, or you could change the opinion of someone else who needs it.
3 – Market yourself
Leveraging social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allows you to create a brand for yourself.
Firstly, these outlets allow you to create inroads for potential business, clients, or networking opportunities. Think of them like a digital business card, but with much greater reach.
Next, they allow you to show off your brand traits, such as your personality, professionalism, interests, goals, skill sets and credentials. This personalizes you to your audience, allowing them to build a sense of recognition. And people much prefer to do business with people they recognize.
4 – Do something that scares you
This motivational quote is more than just an empty platitude. Staying in your comfort zone is how people stagnate in their careers and personal lives.
When you lay out your plans for the next day, month, year, or whatever segment you build your plans on, add in something that pushes your boundaries. Consider what seems “impossible” to you. Ask yourself why it’s impossible, and what’s holding you back? Is it fear of failure? Of the difficulty involved? Does it shake up your routine?
Dive head first into that something if it means you come out dripping of success and self-improvement.
5 – Get a mentor
Like a mountaineer navigating with the help of an experienced sherpa, you can climb the mountain of your career much easier with guidance from someone who’s climbed to the top before.
Successful people, time-allowing, tend to enjoy helping the development of others. No one builds their careers alone; people need support along the way to make it big.
A major factor for successful people is that they are not afraid to ask for support! So go approach a respected senior at your work or in your industry, and ask to take time for some feedback on your career path. Sharing your different perspectives can be beneficial for both of you.
6 – Always be networking
You don’t have to be at a tradeshow or at a formal business meeting to hand out business cards or connect with people about your work.
Try making networking a part of your day to day lifestyle. Do you volunteer? Talk to your volunteer group about your line of business. Do you play sports? Why not hand out some branded water bottles or baseball hats with your logo?
Above all, making meaningful connections means you bypass the superficial nature of formality and make real friendships that will help you exponentially when it comes to promoting yourself.
7 – Find the yin to your yang
Attach yourself to someone in your company whose skills set complements your own, and vice versa.
When you fill in the gaps in their weaknesses, you become indispensable to them. As they advance, they’ll be inclined to take you upward with them. Furthermore, they can shield you from difficulties arising from your own weak points.
These types of informal partnerships are quite viable and productive, and when the right balance is struck, synergy is created.
8 – Don’t get backed into a corner by yourself
Your greatest enemy when it comes to professional development is yourself. In particular: your mindset.
Too often people settle on a particular concept of success, and trap themselves in an unhappy place where they can no longer achieve their goals. You should always remain flexible with your definition of success, and don’t be afraid to seek it out elsewhere when you get walled in.
For example, did your company get rid of the position you thought you were getting promoted to? No use banging your head against the wall. Maybe it’s time to look at a similar position in a different company, or set your eye on an even loftier promotion.
9 – Forget brick and mortar
The internet has made it so that the working world is steadily virtualizing many jobs. This means more and more people have the potential to work remotely, online.
If you focus only on finding work in physical locations, you’ll miss out on a wide world of opportunities that you can do from the comfort of your own home!
Not to mention the flexibility many online employers offer, that can give you the freedom to pursue other forms of self-development with much greater ease.
10 – Work hard, play hard
You should focus your energy on hobbies outside of work, the same way you allocate time and effort into your job.
Knowing that your life includes work you find personally rewarding, whether that be volunteering, athletics, crafting, DIY, etc., will give you the confidence that comes with a sense of purpose.
What’s more, your hobby could turn into a side hustle for you. Do you paint? Try putting your work in a pop-up gallery. Do you knit? Try putting your stuff on Etsy. Do you run charity marathons? Maybe you could become a paid organizer. And then that side hustle becomes your dream job.
The biggest point we can make is that success comes in many forms. Personal development doesn’t look the same to everyone. You’ll need to ask yourself exactly what it is you want to get out of your career, and then comes the hard part. Getting there.
Keep in mind these helpful tips, though, and that journey will start to look a whole lot easier.