How to Succeed: 5 Steps for Getting Ahead
How to Get Ahead Fast
1. Just Wing It
If you're entering the fast lane, being bound by a strict time line is just going to slow you down. "When you get caught up in the details and restrictions of having a plan, you get stuck thinking it can be done only one way," says Victoria Colligan, cofounder of Ladies Who Launch, a networking organization for female entrepreneurs. "As a result, you may miss an opportunity to take an atypical, yet speedier, course or lose drive when things don't go according to your schedule." In other words, if your point-by-point plot says you need step B to get to C, you probably aren't looking when a not-so-obvious opportunity pops up to skip right to D.
Example:You want to own a restaurant. Youcouldstart out as a hostess (step B) and work your way up to manager (C), learning the food biz as you go. It's a solid way to gain valuable experience, but if you want to be a restaurateur, like, right now, it's smart to keep an eye open for an alternate path.
Maybe you grab the chance to work as a food or equipment supplier, connecting with other vendors who have insider tips and forging a unique, more lateral relationship with seasoned owners. The point is, the clear route is not always the most productive one. You need to be flexible and open to pioneering your own custom-made course.
2. Have a Huge Ego
Obviously, you're not sitting around, meekly saying, "Who, me?" every time you're given kudos, but in this current climate, you have to PR yourself hardcore. However, you need to do it in a savvy way — plugging your abilities without turning your boss or clients off with your bragging. "To accelerate your career, you want to get attention from the higher-ups, so you must be strategically pushy," confirms Barbara Stanny, author ofOvercoming Underearning.
To do this, recognize key opportunities to sell yourself. The big moments are obvious — during your review or a meeting with the boss — but there are little openings throughout the day that, if seized upon, can be a conduit to your rise, says Kate Wendleton, president of the national career coaching organization The Five O'Clock Club and author ofNavigating Your Career.
A model case:You're riding the elevator with the boss. Don't screw your moment by gushing over her shoes as other employees may do. Instead, self-compliment. When she asks how you are, say, "Great, I redid the window display last week and it has brought in a ton of new business." Is it aggressive? Abso-freakin'-lutely, but it works.
3. Cherry-Pick Your Assignments
Obviously, the higher-ups appreciate a team player — that never goes out of style. But rather than offering to lend a hand with any undertaking (like a huge photocopying endeavor), only throw your hat in the ring for the plum projects. "That way, you are using your time to show off your skills and do something important for the company," says Wendleton. Plus, if you're constantly doing menial tasks, they'll pigeonhole you as the assistant type, and you may get stalled on your career path.
So ask a superior if he or she needs help with the workload on an important assignment — a busy colleague will appreciate the break. Then, make your boss aware of your initiative by saying something like, "I've been working on a few inventory reports for Tom, and I'm really learning a lot. I'd be happy to take on more." Bingo. "By shouldering some of the responsibilities of a higher position, you're showing the boss that you're up to the task," says NYC career counselor Lynn Berger.
Video: How to Get a Promotion (3 Step Plan)
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