It was Abraham Lincoln who said, ‘Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.’
When it comes to advancing your career, Lincoln’s advice rings true. Some people just wait for things to happen, while others actively pursue opportunities. There are many ways to advance your career and it is my observation that highly successful professionals are committed to the following three factors.
1. Get serious about your brand
Everyone has a brand and if you are serious about advancing your career it is important to take your brand seriously. A strong brand is strategic, evolving and authentic…and it needs to be all three. A brand needs to be bi-focal like a pair of glasses. It should serve your short-term goals and your long-term vision. Undertake some work to understand what your current brand is, what you want it to be and identify where the gaps are, if any.
2. Share stories that give you credibility
Stories are a powerful way to demonstrate your capabilities, values and passions. Analyse your career history and find stories of transition and accomplishment as well as stories that show your values and passion. To avoid feeling like you are bragging ensure your stories show a healthy dose of vulnerability. Once you have these stories find opportunities to share them, such as presentations, job interviews, team meetings, performance appraisal conversations, stakeholder meetings or even informal chats.
3. Seek out sponsors
Very few people have sponsors when they should. Sponsors are not an interchangeable word with coaches and mentors as they have a very specific purpose by playing an active role in your career. Sponsors will be the one pushing your case at a table that you do not have access to. They will be putting your name forward for roles you did not know existed or were becoming vacant. They are your professional guardian angel and if you are serious about advancing into more senior positions of authority you need to have them and several of them both internally and externally to your current company.
In some instances you could have sponsors you are not even aware of and this is an added bonus but you also need to strategically identify people and ask them to be your sponsor. Never wait for your career to happen, take action to make it happen.
Gabrielle Dolan is the best-selling author of Ignite: Real leadership, real talk, real results (Wiley). Her latest book Storytelling for Job Interviews is available now via online stores. Gabrielle is considered a global expert in Business Storytelling, with popular online training programs for storytelling in business and storytelling for job interviews. To find out more visit www.gabrielledolan.com