Foundations of a successful professional career

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

Over last couple of months I have interacted with many HR professionals, talent agencies, business heads and my peer network. With all the conversation that ensued, there are really two things that stood out to for a success full professional life.

Network: When I bounced this idea to a friend, there was a very healthy argument on how the most important variable affecting your success in corporate is your performance. I agreed on a macro level. However, I realized how both performance and network are related. Let me break it down for you. You come with a certain pedigree and have worked hard in your jobs while delivering exceptional results. Your team and business can trust you. The simple question to ask is whether people who you work with will hire you if they start their own business, if the answer is Yes, congratulations you have a solid network.

Skill: We all can agree that we are paid for being good at what we do. Be it analytics, digital marketing, selling (yes ‘sales’ is a skill, you can learn it and excel at it), web development, coding and so on. It is these skills that corporates look for while hiring you. Your performance reflects your skills. In a sea of graduates and postgraduates it these skills and their level of expertise that differentiate you. As I read somewhere, the salary you command at your organization is simply a factor of how difficult you are to replace.

Now the big question is how to be good at these. Both of the above things are outputs, to control the outcomes you need to control and condition the inputs. For network you need people who can trust you with getting shit done (as they call it these days!!) and are fun to work with. To nurture trust:

1. Do what you commit

2. Show consistency

3. Respect ideas

The third one on the list is what I found to be missing in in most people I interacted with. No one is asking you to agree to a certain viewpoint, or to respect a particular person just because of the position they are in. Respect their ideas, thoughts and way of doing things. You might not like an individual in the corporate setting you are in, but if you like their way of thinking or how they manage certain situation don’t be afraid to respect those. In all this you will also have some toxic people. Refrain from engaging with them. If you are reading this your smart enough to identify and take your own calls.

Upskilling it a little dynamic. Understand where you are right now and your own professional goals. Think of it like going from point A to point B. You are at A right now and you want to reach to point B. There are multiple modes of transportation you can take. Take the one that takes the least time and effort (money is not being included here; in today’s massive open internet economy gaining a skill is just a matter of your own intent and hard work). What is important here is to also understand which industry you are a part, which professions will boom in future, and whether the line of work interests you. It is always advisable to align the skills that you want to learn with something you like and interests you (we are not talking about ‘passion’ here, but a general level of curiosity). It will not only be easier to learn these but also keep you motivated. Follow these steps for upskilling:

1. Identify your current skills and their expertise level

2. Find your point B

3. Select the transportation method

Now we know our inputs and outputs. This is the easy part. Next step is to build systems and process around your lifestyle to achieve these. Building a network is not done in a single day. Gaining a skill takes more than a few weeks.

Gaining trust from your colleagues, seniors and peer network takes time. You need to:

1. Engage in meaningful conversations

2. Be polite, you don’t have to be aggressive to make your point

3. Be logical, its really not that difficult

4. Commit and deliver

5. Reach out for help/support if required

6. Apologize if you make a mistake

7. Be a good listener

8. Show up to work everyday

All this while being good at what you do. Think big. While you may be at a certain position in the corporate hierarchy, think of how your work impacts overall business/company. Be cognizant of your actions and contribute as much as you can for the good.

Gaining new skills is like building a new habit. Change your day to find out time for the learning. It is like building muscle (brain muscles here!!). You get up early, hydrate yourself, workout/run for some time. Eat healthy, avoid junk food, sleep well, meditate. See how your whole day changes just that you could build muscles. It’s the same with acquiring a new skill. Enroll in an online course. Speak to people who are already experts in the field. Take up consulting projects. Note down your learnings and share with friends for feedback. Apply the same in some actual work.

Once you have these two weapons in your arsenal: Network & skills, no one can stop you from a successful professional.

PS: There were multiple opinions on this subject around following your passion, go with the flow etc. While all these seem fancy, let us get real for a moment. Not everyone gets to do a job which is also their hobby. Everyone aspires to be successful in their professional life and these two will take you a long way.

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this.is.yogi

this.is.yogi

unlearning, by the hour

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