A successful career takes a long term plan and plenty of hard work along the way. Here are 5 steps for planning ahead for long range career success.
I recently had coffee with a young friend just starting out in his career. He has people skills out the wazoo and is working with a business and product he believes in. He’s a snappy dresser and a genuinely nice guy. He’s already miles ahead of his peers in building a successful career.
He doesn’t need my advice. But as the mother of people his age, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s what I told him:
1. Read. Build a newsfeed of digital publications related to your field. As you can afford, subscribe to papers and magazines related to your field. Read widely beyond your field. Cultivate knowledge, both deep and wide.
2. Build and treasure your business email list. Keep it current. Build a schedule for regular contacting each client and potential client on you list without annoying them. Know a little bit about each person, their business, their family and their outside interests. Keep a log of these things because as your business grows, your memory won’t keep up.
3. Use a personalized approach to client and potential client contact. Send individual emails and hand written notes. Don’t ask for anything, but share freely. Use articles from your newsfeed to pass along and say, “I was thinking about you when I read this.”
4. Say thank you as often as you possibly can. Schedule time each Friday to review your calendar from the preceding week and send a note of handwritten thanks to each person who helped you in some way.
5. Set long range career goals. Don’t expect quick return. We frequently recommend to our clients that they use radio 52 weeks a year, not to announce sales, but to build relationships. Not quick transactions, but long term relationships. Don’t expect any return for a year. Do the work, and be pleasantly surprised if it pays off sooner.
As I told my young friend, when I graduated college, I thought I was a big gift to some lucky ad agency that would be fortunate enough to hire me and my freshly earned four year degree. Now I know, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The person who hired me did me the favor. I took far more than I gave early in my career, and that’s been true each step of the way.
Make a plan, work the plan, and decide ahead of time that each and every effort is part of your long range plan to build a successful career.
What’s your best advice for someone just starting out?