How to Take the World by Storm - Top Ten Tips for Career Success
So, after concluding that becoming an astronaut would play havoc with your social life, you’ve decided that a career in marketing or general business is for you. That’s great news as these areas offer fantastic scope for creative, challenging and fulfilling work that will push the boundaries of your professional, mental and social skills.
The difficulty however is that countless other students or recent graduates have decided on the same path as you, with more competition out there than ever before making it tough for younger people to hold on to the best jobs and carve out a career.
Fortunately, by following just a few simple rules, you can get yourself noticed and excel in whatever direction you choose. Industry expert and managing director of PHD Marketing, Joanna Stephenson, shares her top ten tips for success in marketing and business careers, helping you to navigate these rapidly evolving fields while avoiding pitfalls and making yourself stand out from the crowd along the way…
1. Network, network, network
Building communities of fellow industry professionals is vital for creating new business or career opportunities, helping you to engage new clients and get on influential figures’ radars. Nobody is going to know about your unique strengths and skills unless you share these in a social forum.
Just as important however are the personal benefits to be derived from networking, as learning about others’ viewpoints and experiences can help you to look at your own job and work differently, offering valuable new perspectives that could lead to positive change. This can even be within your own company, so make the most of every opportunity – even your lunchbreak – to get to know the people around you and raise your internal profile.
2. Never go to your boss with a question, go with two answers and ask which is best
In the world of work it is inevitable that you will encounter a situation where you are unsure of what to do or how to proceed, so it’s okay to ask for help. The trick however is to do this in a professional way which shows initiative.
Your boss is busy and bombarding them with petty questions that a colleague or even Google could have answered is not going to impress. People like to help those who help themselves, so if you really need to seek clarification or advice do so from an empowered standpoint. Make sure you have collected all the information you can about the issue, then present a choice of solutions to show your boss that you have thought it through.
3. Listen hard - two ears, one mouth
There is a great difference between hearing and listening, and this is an area where many employees fall down. You may have encountered work situations where those who shout the loudest seem to get ahead, but the reality is that only those who really open their ears and pay attention to advice, their surroundings and the lessons of experience can learn, understand and develop at a proper rate.
4. … but have an opinion!
Sitting back and taking everything as fact offers no value to your team or to the wider company. While it’s crucial to be aware of what others think about an issue, it’s just as important to put your own slant on discussions, ask questions and be prepared to think differently. That’s why companies hire younger generations, to challenge their thinking and offer priceless new insights. If you don’t agree with something or think you have a better solution, don’t be afraid to challenge entrenched practices – just remember to do so with respect!
Many are afraid to put their head above the parapet in case their opinion isn’t received well, but in the business world what matters more than perceived failures is learning curves and these are only achieved by putting yourself out there.
5. Be diligent with detail - do your homework
Your ability to think critically and analyse situations for what they are is important and comes as a result of thorough research. The maxim ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is particularly pertinent in the workplace, where you need to be armed with information at all times to cope with whatever scenario, question or problem may come your way. Clients put their faith in companies who take the time to get to know who they are, what they do and what they need, and only by fully understanding these things can you perform your job effectively.
Putting in those extra few hours to read up on and think about a client or subject will demonstrate to your employer that you are as invested in the company’s success as they are in yours.
6. Ensure sales buy in to your position and that you are reflecting their needs clearly
Lots of companies employ a harmful ‘us and them’ culture regarding sales and marketing teams, where competition for territory and recognition can cloud motives and decisions.
This unprofessional practice is best avoided, as in reality one can’t survive or thrive without the other. Your worth to your employer is determined by the value you can add to the collective company efforts, and healthy interdepartmental relationships are key to this. Really listen to what the other team needs from you and what their concerns and pain points are, then work on addressing these. As soon as you do, everyone’s lives become easier and the organisation as a whole will benefit enormously.
7. Hone your presentation skills
A great idea can fall flat if you can’t pitch effectively and with style. Think of your presentation as your store front – if people don’t see anything engaging, inventive and of real value at a quick glance, why would they bother looking further?
You might feel uncomfortable or even a little embarrassed when starting out with making presentations, but practice really does make perfect. Rehearse in front of a mirror or with friends or colleagues to work out the kinks before making the pitch. If you want to be heard, be calm, polished and confident.
8. Learn the language
Each industry, business or application has its own vocabulary and you will only be taken seriously as a professional once you have mastered this. Whether that means hunkering down for an evening to learn your CTR from your CPC or your impressions from your influencers, embrace the weird and wonderful vernaculars that make marketing and business so fascinating and employ them to engender professional support.
9. Pick a mentor or role model to support you
While it’s important to stand on your own two feet, don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself at work. You are surrounded by colleagues with a wealth of varied experience and education, so get to know them and share in their knowledge and expertise.
It can make the world of difference in any endeavour to find a role model or mentor who is happy to answer any questions you might have, act as a sounding board and offer useful advice. Pick someone who you admire and emulate the qualities that make them special. These support networks are mutually beneficial, helping to speed up your progress and widening the mentor’s perspective.
10. Don’t fear change or rejection – it’s the most effective way to learn!
Change isn’t easy but then nothing in life worth having ever really is. Careers are all about forging your own path, so if you don’t like the one you are on you must have the confidence to alter it. Change can be as small as adopting new processes or as huge as pursuing a job in a new industry, but only be being open to these possibilities will you find fulfilment and satisfaction in what you do.
Perhaps more important even than learning to cope with change is learning to handle rejection. We can learn more from rejection than success because it forces us to take a good look at ourselves and ask the question why wasn’t I ready for this yet? What strengths do I need to highlight better, and what weaknesses do I need to address? There are many saccharine clichés out there about the beauty of failure, but take J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as an example. It’s difficult to believe that one of the best-selling books of all time was rejected by not one but twelve publishers before becoming the world-changing phenomenon it is today, so there’s hope for us all…
For more information, please contact PHD Marketing Ltd on email@example.com