Knowledge and hard work aren’t enough to ensure your career success.
In today’s competitive career environment, distinguishing yourself from everyone else isn’t optional – it’s essential.
Fair or unfair, in business, perceptions are reality. Advancing rapidly in your career depends more on having others perceive you as a unique high performer, than it does on your qualifications, knowledge, or experience.
The good news is there are many things you can do to stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a winner. Here are some ideas you can get started on today!
1. BECOME AN EXPERT – There’s no question that, in every field, specialists earn more than generalists. To stand out from the crowd, and increase your value to your company, you need to identify yourself as an expert in a specific area.
Instead of continuing to build broad knowledge in your field, focus on finding a narrow niche that’s important to your company, and develop your expertise a mile deep. Read everything you can on your subject. Attend conferences. Get to know the established experts. Become the obvious person to turn to in your company when it comes to your chosen subject.
2. INNOVATE! – You don’t have to be in R&D to innovate. In today’s business environment, innovations can come from anywhere. Develop a new spreadsheet, checklist, or quality improvement plan that makes your work easier or your results better. When higher-ups compliment you on your productivity, talk about your innovation and offer to share it with others.
3. BECOME A CUSTOMER EXPERT – Regardless what your job is, go out of your way to get in contact with customers and find out what they want. While it’s often easier and more comfortable to deal with internal functions, personal relationships with customers set you apart from the crowd and make you more valuable to your company.
Find out what customers like and don’t like about your current products. What problems do they think your company should correct? What are their ideas for new products or services? Put your findings in writing, and make sure to get them in front of the people who count.
4. INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY WITHIN YOUR COMPANY – Promotions, raises, and coveted assignments frequently go to the most visible people. Increase your visibility by speaking at company or industry meetings. Write articles for the company newsletter or industry trade journal. Look for opportunities to become known to people in the power structure who can help you advance rapidly.
5. BRANCH OUT – Get involved in community or association projects. Volunteer for a leadership position in a professional or volunteer organization. These groups often offer you opportunities to expand your network of influence, both inside and outside your industry.
6. CREATE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITIES – While doing what’s expected in your job may earn you some praise, going the extra mile to identify ways to contribute to your company will make your superiors really sit up and take notice.
Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Stay alert to the needs and challenges of your company and your industry. When you see an overlooked area, or an emerging market, create your own opportunity by writing up a proposal and description of your ideas.
7. DEVELOP YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS – In business, meetings and presentations are the primary stage on which you perform. Seize opportunities to speak in front of others, particularly senior managers. There’s nothing like being a powerful, effective and willing speaker to label you as someone to watch.
Standing out from the crowd doesn’t depend on luck or talent. It requires strategic planning and persistence, but the results – in the form of promotions, raises, and important career-accelerating assignments – make the effort well worth it.
When you follow these 7 steps, you will become known as the go-to guy or gal in your field. The better known you are, the more others will trust and depend on you, and the more rapidly you will advance in your career.