5 Ways to Advance Your Career in 12 Months or Less
I started my sales career two days after I graduated from college. I had no formal sales training. I learned by reading, getting mentors, watching successful salespeople, taking an online writing course, helping others, building my personal online brand and taking risks.
Fast forward to 2017.
At age 34, I’m the chief growth officer for one of the 10 fastest-growing print management companies in the United States. I serve on major industry boards, have founded an organization that focuses on youth and innovation, host a radio show, write three monthly national columns and run my own supplement company Zen Balance.
Through all my failures and successes, I’ve learned a lot about how to move ahead in my career. Here are five tips to quickly advance your career:
1. Take On Key Assignments
Inform your boss that you want to get more experience by taking on additional projects. Volunteer for crucial, difficult, risky assignments. This will increase your visibility company-wide. It also shows initiative, willingness to be a team player and the desire to enhance your skills.
“... We also believe in taking risks, because that’s how you move things along.”
– Melinda Gates
2. Become the Expert
Be the go-to person for something different and challenging. Learn how to do something that no else knows how to do. Use this newly acquired skill set to brand yourself and stand out among your team members. Be known for something. A team member of mine, Michelle, is a wizard at pivot tables in Excel. She is known throughout our organization’s eight offices as the Excel expert. When our president needs to prepare a report or analysis, guess who he calls? Yep, Michelle.
3. Stay Current
The world is changing at such a rapid pace. What’s hot or important today may be obsolete in 12 months. Do a lot of reading and research on new technologies and trends. Learn and use new technology so you can show others within your organization. This allows you to add tremendous value (often in the form of efficiency and time savings). Talk about new trends with your executive leadership team and figure out how to incorporate them at your company. Being on the cutting edge will allow you to surpass and remain ahead of your competitors.
4. Provide a Unique Viewpoint
Steve Jobs didn’t change the world by doing what others had done. He didn’t always agree with his team. He stood out by disagreeing. Think of new ideas and solutions that will add value to your company. Never disrespect a team member when sharing your different viewpoint—pose it as “something else to consider.” Always illustrate how your boss and the company will benefit. Never make it about a personal benefit.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
– Steve Jobs
5. Network, Network and Network Some More
Forming relationships gets you known and builds trust. Don’t just spend time with your boss. Get to know as many people outside of your department as possible. Set up tea or lunch meet-ups weekly. Ask questions about careers, families and goals. Offer to help and support your colleagues on their journeys. You will be surprised by how many people are touched and will want to help you.
Work harder than everyone else. Build your personal brand so you become an industry thought leader. Promotions and success will follow you. Who knows, you may decide to run or launch your own company someday.
Sarah Scudder is the chief growth officer of The Sourcing Group, one of the fastest-growing print distributors in the U.S. Sarah, who is the youngest executive to ever have served on the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA) board, is the CEO and founder of the Young Innovators Group, focusing on innovation and how to attract, hire and retain young people in the print industry. She co-hosts a weekly radio show, Career Conversations, in which she interviews entrepreneurs, community leaders and people who have made major career advancements.