Successful people have certain qualities. But what are these desirable traits, and can they really further your career?
The short answer is yes.
Here are five simple and effective ways to better yourself and keep your career moving forward.
1) Surround yourself with smart people
You are the sum of your parts, and this goes for the company you keep as well. Spend time with intelligent people who challenge and advance your thinking. The ultimate entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is a big advocate for this, and the famous American industrialist Henry Ford, also once said, “I am not the smartest, but I surround myself with competent people.” Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know – and align yourself with someone who does.
Next steps: Actively seek out passionate, successful individuals. Attend workshops or events that are specific to your field and join relevant professional groups. You can reach out to thought leaders or potential mentors through LinkedIn. Be realistic, choose someone in your industry/function that could take time out of their schedule to meet you. Once you have established contact it is easy to suggest a quick coffee. It really is that simple. People enjoy offering support and providing advice, provided they are approached in the right manner. By building your own personal community of inspiration, you will put yourself in the box seat to land career opportunities.
2) Picture your success
Numerous studies have proven that mental imagery readies your brain for success and increases your performance in real life. If you can see it, you can make it happen. It might sound far-fetched, but there is no denying that it works. Many famous athletes, actors, doctors and business people credit their accomplishments to using visualisation to help manifest their success. Jim Carrey wrote himself a cheque for $10m dated five years ahead and carried it in his wallet until he landed his role for Dumb and Dumber that – yes – paid him that $10m.
Next steps: Set aside a few minutes every morning to see yourself in your ideal career. Close your eyes, relax and imagine every single detail as if it were happening now. Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How are you feeling? What are you wearing? Banish any doubts if they arise and allow yourself to dream big. The more often you do this, the more purpose and direction you will have and the closer you will come to achieving your wildest dreams. Give it a try, it can’t hurt.
3) Hone your skills
It is as simple as it sounds. Sharpen one skill and make it your sword. Find out what you are good at and invest the time to become great at it. If you can show employers that you are an expert in something and can help them corner the market by being their expert, you will move from being simply a decent prospect to a must-have part of any company.
Next steps: Identify your top three skills and pick one that you want to develop in the next month. Commit to spending 10 minutes a day improving and developing it (books, podcasts, classes, etc.) and put it into practice in real life.
4) Build your brand
What do you find when you Google yourself? Whatever you find is what everyone else sees as well. It is common practice these days to do online research on potential candidates, colleagues and even prospective partners. Your professional standing will increase significantly when people Google your name and discover your presence in relevant forums for your field. Build your brand by sharing your unique point of view – it will improve your reputation as well as make you easily discoverable by the people and places you want to work for.
Next steps: Keep your internet presence up to date and relevant. Try some of the following:
- Write your own blog or guest post on an industry blog
- Produce a five minute YouTube video showcasing your strengths (e.g. a ‘How-To’)
- Tweet on a daily basis as an industry expert
- Create and update your own professional website
- Develop a podcast
- Write and post relevant articles on LinkedIn
If you’re really keen you could even target potential employers with something tailored just for them, like this woman who created a resume for Airbnb.
5) Engage with one new person a day (or reconnect with someone)
Relationships are at the core of all success and happiness. People do business with people they like, and you can never have too many friends. When Bill Clinton was 22, he carried around a notebook and wrote down the names and particulars of everyone he met. His genuine interest in people, together with his vision for the future, led to his eventual inauguration as the president of the USA.
Next steps: Leave your normal social circle and connect with people you’ve never met before. Connect through LinkedIn or email people who already have your dream job. Clearly describe how you can help them and why they should meet you. You would be surprised how many people are more than happy to catch up for a coffee – if you’re buying – and share their knowledge and expertise. Even consider hosting your own events with a colleague or starting your own group. In no time you will build a far reaching network of friends, followers, and thought leaders.