When you’re a recent grad and new to the world of work, all you want to do is get noticed and get promoted. But respect really is earned, it’s not just a cliché. It also takes time and doesn’t happen by accident.
Every profession, every company, and every department has an inner circle. As a recent graduate, you will look to identify how this works in your department and company in the first few months of your tenure.
You’ll gradually gain an awareness of the people who have real influence and the people who don’t, because just as there is an inner circle, there is an outer circle too. Your attitude and your choices will determine which one you will be in.
There is no such thing as job security, but the top performers get closest. They attract followers and mentors; they develop mutual respect and important liaisons with decision-makers.
The inner circle is where your job is safest and where the best assignments, raises, and promotions live. It’s where you become visible to the power players two, three, and four levels above you. Add the following five commitments to everything you have learned so far and you will gain the attention of, and acceptance by, the people who make up the inner circles within your department and company.
1.Secure your job and establish a sound foundation for skill development
2.Work to become an accepted team member in the ways suggested
3.Commit to the success of every project, every team, and every department with which you are involved
4.Get behind every project leader, no matter who it is and what your relationship with her is up to this point. You will be called upon to work for peer project leaders, when you might feel better qualified. Nevertheless, you work to make both the project and that project leader a success. This is teamwork, and if you hope to become a leader you must first be a team player—remember, a leader is simply a team-player position on a higher-level team. Don’t worry about your work getting overlooked; the people who matter to your professional growth always notice your efforts.
5. Give your best on every assignment, no matter how undesirable, because you know that taking the rough with the smooth is part of achieving success. The real players, the members of the inner circle, know this and respect it in others.
When you polish your technical skills, support every task you tackle with transferable skills, and make judgments grounded in sound professional values, you become a highly desirable employee. When you pursue your work with commitment and enlightened self-interest, you will slowly and quietly be welcomed into the inner circle of your department and then your company.
After firmly establishing yourself in your company, become involved with your professional community by joining the local chapter of a professional association, and begin to take this brand into a larger arena. The people you meet through a professional association are the most committed and best-connected people in your professional world. They usually belong to the inner circles of their own companies, and probably have the key to some of your strategic career moves over the years.
Membership and active involvement in professional associations is the smartest career strategy you can initiate to achieve wide professional connectivity. You will keep current with industry issues and new skills, and you will get to know and be known by everyone who is anyone in your profession. When you are fully engaged in your industry with the same level of enlightened self-interest you invest at your own company, you will find even more doors to the inner circle opening to you. So make involvement in professional association and community activities something you do as a matter of course every month.
Build on these foundations to evolve into the consummate professional you want to be and be seen as, and you will begin to manifest a desirable professional brand. This brand grows over time, first in your department, then company-wide and then within your profession.
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