I hadn’t seen Michele Heyman in a while. She had attended one of my mini-retreats a while back, and every so often we’d catch up at professional events. Last time, when we met up at a Texas Women in Business luncheon, she handed me a new business card. Michele had quit her old company to hang out her own shingle as a certified public accountant and business advisor.
Another one over the fence!
Truth be told, Michele had begun to prepare herself for this Do-Over! a long time ago, when she began to look ahead, and think about how she could advance her career. Michele understood the secret to career advancement: It’s not just about your domain expertise. It’s about your career development skills.
Here’s Michele’s winning formula for advancing your career, whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur:
1. It always comes down to relationships. Pick up the phone and call the client, instead of falling back on email.
2. Cultivate your personal brand. Make sure you’re networking effectively, and volunteer for speaking engagements. That’s how you can position yourself as an expert in the field, not just a “hard worker.”
3. Etiquette is a lost art. Find it, and use it.
4. Bump up your communication skills. “Long ago I figured out that, even though accounting is all about numbers, if I wanted to advance in my career, I had to write well and improve my command of vocabulary.”
5. Think about the kind of leader you want to be. “I was inspired by a workshop I took on ‘servant leadership.'”
6. Take personal accountability. If you make a mistake, as we all do, take responsibility and solve the problem swiftly and in person. You’ll end up deepening that relationship.
Advancing your career is like planting a tree. The best time to begin: yesterday.