Ever wonder why you didn’t get an opportunity to work on that big project, or get face-time with higher-ups like other colleagues in your office have? It may be as simple as raising your hand and saying “I want in.”
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Forward thinking in the vein of career building is key, starting from your first day on the job. Career coach Kathy Caprino says so many workers struggle with the day-to-day challenges of being on the job that they forget to focus on the long-term.
“It’s not just about how well we do in our job,” Caprino says. “It’s relationships, exposure and growth—getting known throughout the entire enterprise, not just in your department.”
But how to start? Follow these expert tips from Caprino and Jena Abernathy, senior partner at Witt/Kieffer, executive recruiting firm.
Network as much as possible.
Networking within the company can often be overlooked, especially when a worker is new on the job, says Abernathy.
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“People don’t realize how important networking is inside the organization, as well as externally—they have to learn how to focus on this and leverage these relationships,” she says.
This doesn’t mean stalking senior management, or interrupting a meeting to introduce yourself, but if you do run into a CEO, say hello and strike up a conversation, Abernathy says.
It’s key to not be shy, Caprino says. Distinguishing yourself will help higher-ups remember you, for the right reasons.
“A lot of companies have ‘lunch-and-learn’ sessions with leadership,” she says. “Go to them and sit right next to the president. Get in there and speak up.”
Many companies have a corporate culture where younger team members create presentations, and more senior-level workers present. Caprino says feel out the project and ask if you can be the person to present your own research—you may just get a shot at it.
Consider offering to train others in something that you excel in, she says. “It may not be what you were hired to do, but offer it,” she says.
Also volunteer for committees within the organization, Abernathy says, especially those that are cross functional. And when you are on a committee, do your research.
“There is nothing worse than someone who comes onto a team and hasn’t done their homework,” she says. “Make sure you are informed of the industry and well-read.”
Think about your own skill set.
Consider your own personal strengths and personal brand and think about what these assets can do for the company.
“Think about what you want to be known for,” Caprino says. “Learn to leverage what you are great at.”
And if an opportunity doesn’t exist already, carve your own path. This can be done by brainstorming new ideas for your company, like a blog or amped up social media efforts, Caprino says.
“Think of how you can be a contributor, above and beyond your function,” she says.