In the frenzy and chaotic world today, it’s so easy to get lost in the bluster of living from one day and lose sight of your end goals.
While beating deadlines is enough to get you from week to week, building relationships and nurturing your reputation can get you further in the long term.
Below are six simple ways that you can establish you career path and become a leader and expert in your chosen field, right from where you are.
- Own your contact list
Most of the people that deal with you in your official capacity know you as a representative of your place of work, but you need to make those contacts yours.
Business is first and foremost driven by relationships, as is everything else.
Should you leave your current job, then the networks and relationships you established will be your most prized possession, especially if you intend to go and start your own thing.
Don’t just create professional acquaintances, delve deeper and put effort into building personal friendly relationships with your professional connections.
You can do this by checking in with them in-between business to ask how they are doing with their life things, take them out for drinks or lunch, attend events together or play mutual sports.
Meeting outside the work environment can help you transition the relationship from professional to personal. Of course, ensure you give them the best possible service to improve your referral customer base.
Collect business cards (and offer yours), scan them onto your Google Contacts list and connect with them through LinkedIn and other networks.
The bottom-line is to have a system that works for you to ensure that you do not forget any of your contacts.
- Define yourself outside the job
Don’t let people think of your just in terms of what you do for a certain company they conduct business with from time to time. Your job/role definition is important, sure, but that should not be your ultimate definition. Make yourself real to your contacts, be yourself, let your personality shine through outside of your job and people will remember you.
Professional circumstances are continuously changing. If you don’t give yourself a more steadfast identity in your profession, the people who used to hang on to your every word will totally snub you when you change jobs or switch roles. However, if they know you as you, you can carry on your relationships to your new roles.
- Uphold integrity
Reputation is one of those things that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you’re changing jobs, or countries; if one person has something bad to say about you, eventually that word will find you where you are.
You probably want to be careful how you treat people – do not be dishonest with a client just to win over a single contract. Don’t steal from them, don’t take shortcuts, give substandard work or just generally be jerky towards clients. Don’t criticize them and make them look bad in front of others, even if what you’re saying is true.
Treat your professional contacts the same way you would family or friends. Strong reputations will outlast any obstacle that you face. Soiled reputations, on the other hand, can ruin any good opportunity that you land, even decades after.
- Be proactive and responsive
The importance of responsiveness when dealing with professional contacts cannot be overemphasized. It’s the easiest way to build relationships and establish your reputation as a reliable person. Always call back when you miss calls, and send prompt replies to emails or text messages.
Even when you don’t know or have an answer to their question, or don’t have time to attend to them presently, send a response to say just that. Take it a step further and recommend someone who you think might help, or tell them when you will be available for them. Let them know you are working on their query, and when you think you’ll have a solid response for them.
If you are working on a project that takes a while to complete, periodically call in or send an email to let them know you’re still working on it and the progress so far. If someone does you a favor, follow it up by sending a thank-you email. Don’t only respond if you have something to benefit from it yourself. Doing this will hurt your reputation – clients will know that they can only count on you if you stand to gain, and pretty soon you will be shut out.
- Develop character and personality
It’s important to keep a healthy work-life balance. If all you are to others is what you do at work, it’ll be very easy to forget you. Develop interests outside work and cultivate them just as seriously. Use these interests to make yourself real within your professional life: invite a client to one of your events, or to playing sports with you.
When somebody asks “So, what’s new with you? Ensure you have an answer that has nothing to do with last quarter’s sales performance. Talk about your progress in your hobbies or interests; talk about your family if you have one; anything but your job. Open up a blog, take a cooking class. Remember that life is more than just your job. Jobs are fleeting, because nobody is irreplaceable.
- Invest in others
Everybody is worth your time. So give as much of yourself as you can to others. Listen when they talk to you, go out of your way for them, create alliances, showing genuine interest in your colleagues, peers and clients, attend events they invite you for and mentor your subordinates to be better at their jobs.
You are never too busy to help others, especially when you stand to gain nothing from it. Take meetings that have no foreseeable benefit for you. That’s where the best opportunities will come from. Volunteer for community projects. Connect people who need help with those you know can offer it, and not because you expect the same. Be a guest speaker at a student’s fair and share your experience with up-coming generations.
You never know where the next big opportunity will come from.
The author is a professional credit consultant and financial advisor with more than a decade’s experience in the field. He has written countless articles relating to personal development, debt relief and credit management. To know more visit his site.