Here’s how you can do it:
- Know What You Want. First, you need to look and sound like you are going places. You have to be able to articulate your intentions within the organization to people in power. For example, you may want to work your way up, move to another division or aim for a choice posting abroad. How are you going to convince managers to give you what you want if you do not even know what that is?
In the great career race, your wits will serve you better than your qualifications.
You need a well-devised career strategy that you have tabled with your manager either during an appraisal or at a meeting set up specifically to dis cuss your career. Putting your career plan to work in a transparent manner shows your boss that you are in charge, and tells him that you are capable, driven and possibly attractive to other employers, too.
That said, do not wave any red flags under the bull's nose. Do state for the record that your current job is important to you and you are committed to it. Convince him that you are not waiting to run off with the first headhunter on your doorstep, though that may be exactly what you intend to do. Be careful about who you share your game plan with — the Force may not always be on your side.
- Do 'Important Work'. There is work and there is 'important work'. The latter is what your boss considers important, and that is all that matters. You practically have to read his mind, understand what concerns him, ask if you do not know and prioritize your work accordingly. This may not make the best use of your time or talent, but being the boss’s right-hand man puts you ahead of the game and in a place of power.
- Be the Rock. In the great career race, your wits will serve you better than your qualifications. Managers want someone who knows how to charge ahead and per severe right up to the final countdown. They only want to know how you can solve their problems. They do not expect you to be the problem, so when you get stuck, they look for solutions elsewhere. Be strong, independent and resourceful, or at least try and look the part.
- Get Attitude. A positive, can-do attitude will go the distance, even when your knowledge or experience falls short. Your enthusiasm for work should get people other than your boss to also turn to you for help. Do not be tempted to do someone else’s job - be the enabler. Seeing how people flock to you will make you seem important and well liked. Not only does this make you look good, it also makes your boss look good for having you onboard.
- Ear to The Ground. Stay one step ahead of your boss. Your job is to keep him above the competition within and outside the organization. That means keeping tabs on the industry. Your boss must be able to trust you to deliver accurate and timely information to manage and improve business or avert disasters. The occasional piece of tasty gossip will not hurt either but learn when to “share” and when to keep quiet.
- Develop Confident. You need to sound confident when speaking and interacting with your manager. That inner confidence comes from knowing who you are, what you want and how to get it. Flex your marketability by constantly acquiring new skills and abilities.
- Do Your Own PR. You have to be your own public relations machine. If you do not talk about your achievements, who will? Ask your colleagues and others about interesting work or activities that they may be involved in. This gives you an opportunity to get involved as well as talk about yourself. Look for opportunities to offer a helping hand or a piece of information so that people know you are a useful contact to have. This gives them an incentive to say nice things about you in their own circles. Sooner or later, your reputation will be noticed by someone influential.
- In High Places. Be seen in places where your managers and peers meet and mingle. This could be at exhibitions and conferences, networking events, or even bars, clubs, restaurants and sporting events. Information gathering happens up and down the grapevine so do not just seek out your industry counterparts but socialize at all levels.
Belonging to several groups is useful for widening your networks and being able to connect easily and quickly to sources of information. Networking is more than exchanging name cards or looking for people to use. Cultivate social skills so that people enjoy meeting and talking to you.
- Look the Part. Dress right and make a good impression every time. Subconsciously, we place a lot of significance on looks and prefer to deal with, and indeed be tempted to defer to, people who look like they are successful and going places.