This article originally appeared on the AdeccoUSA blog and is reprinted here with permission.
The key to your house allows you to open the front door. Your car key gets you behind the wheel. A key to the office lets you start your workday. Keys are extraordinarily useful, and when used properly, they can give you access to a lot of things, including a successful career.
The keys to achieving professional success come from developing habits that promote productivity, build relationships, and boost creativity. These initiatives aren’t just one-time tasks. They need to be repeated on a regular basis. Learn them. Practice them. Engrain them in your workday. They will help you achieve your career goals and more!
Key 1: Become acutely aware of your environment.
Be an active observer of your profession, industry, company, and area. By closely monitoring your surroundings, you will notice clues not only to what’s currently happening, but also what might happen in the future. There are a lot of ways to gain awareness of your environment, including:
- Learning to use emerging technology. Staying on the cutting edge of the latest technologies keeps you relevant to your profession and your employer. Researching new software programs, gadgets, or social media tools can usually be done online, oftentimes for free, or with a trip to your local technology or office supply store.
- Reading. There is a wealth of information about your profession, employer, and industry just waiting for you to soak it up. Read books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, even junk mail for insights into your profession, industry, and career.
Key 2: Plan proactively.
Preparation is key. It’s a well-known adage for a reason: because it works. There are numerous ways you can plan proactively in your career and most require just an hour or two each week. By continuously planning, you can avoid unnecessary stress when you start looking for a new position or making a career transition.
- Update your resume. Even if you’re not job-hunting, you should have a resume that’s current. You never know when you might need it!
- Maintain your professional portfolio. This is one of the most effective tools you can use to impress a prospective employer or demonstrate your value to a current one. (If you don’t have a portfolio, get started on creating one.)
- Have a career plan. Your plan should consist of your career goals, as well as where you’d like to go next, and how you intend to get there. It is a roadmap to your professional success.
Key 3: Build and nurture your professional network.
Networking is one of the best ways to strengthen your career and ensure long-term professional success. By establishing relationships with people in your industry, organization, and area, you gain a sounding board for ideas and a network of like-minded people who are willing to help you further yourself professionally.
- Meet people face to face. This is the ideal way to forge new relationships because connections made in person tend to be stronger than those made digitally. Professional associations, community organizations, colleagues, job fairs, and volunteering all offer great opportunities to do some in-person networking.
- Develop connections digitally. Social media has made online networking as easy as clicking “friend,” “connect,” or “follow.” While in-person connections tend to be stronger, don’t overlook or underestimate the power of online networking with sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Key 4: Be innovative.
Sometimes you have to challenge yourself, the way you think, or the way you do things in order to be successful. If you do the same thing over and over again and you don’t achieve the desired result, you need to adjust your strategy. This is especially true when it comes to your career. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Even if everything is working professionally, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Professional success is attainable to those who know how to unlock it. Put these key habits to work and see what kind of opportunities are waiting on the other side of the door.