10 Ways to Get More Opportunities at Work
The two main currencies at work are performance and connections. You need to work on both currencies to get more opportunities, get promoted faster, and achieve success at work.
Most people do what they are told to do, most people are reactive and do not have a clear path to where they are heading, and most people are not interested in numbers except when the numbers impact their bonuses. They are not interested in how the company is doing and how much value it delivers to its clients.
But you are not like most people; you are proactive and intentional. You want to build skills, provide value, and build a professional network, have sponsors that will help you get promoted and achieve the success you want.
So how do you want to get more opportunities your way, get promoted faster, and be successful in the corporate world?
1. Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your goal
“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have seen people refusing to do things because they think it is not their job to do that or it is the job of juniors. You indeed need to focus on the tasks that bring the most value to your team and company, but sometimes there is no way around doing the grueling and mundane, the excel work, taking minutes, etc.
I have seen star performers taking meeting notes, sharing action items, and following up.
Do the work, the mundane included.
2. Be reliable
If your team, your boss, and teams or people collaborating with you or depending on your work cannot rely on you, you will not go far.
You need to be reliable through the value you provide, your work ethic, and your commitments.
3. Make it easy for your team or your boss
Think of ways to make the task your team or boss do easier or faster.
Will a wiki page make it easier for new joiners to onboard? Will creating a dashboard for key metrics your boss needs to report to his bosses make it easier for her?
4. Manage your commitments
“I am easily satisfied with the very best.” — Winston Churchill
Under promise and over deliver is one bad advice. I never liked it. But everyone seems to give it and believe it.
Overpromising and over-deliver are what you should be doing. The key is not to over-commit. You want to promise the moon and deliver Venus.
5. Proactive communication, or Ho-Ren-So
Ho-Ren-So translates as “report, inform, and consult.”
The concept forms the basis of all communication, collaboration, and healthy information sharing in a Japanese organization. It focuses on the roots of the communication line, streamlining the flow of information, and preventing issues from happening again.
Be transparent and often communicate through different mediums; one-on-one, town halls, email, dinners, etc.
6. Think in terms of pathways
“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.” — Thomas Jefferson
Do you know why you want to get promoted? Ask 3 levels of WHYs. Do you know what the requirements are? Do you know the responsibilities of the role you want to be promoted to? Are you already doing the work that a person in that role is supposed to be doing?
You are not promoted because you are expected to do the work. You are promoted because you are already doing the work, and it is only natural to promote you.
Think about pathways to get you where you want to be. What skills do I need to acquire now that will make it faster to reach my goal?
What projects I work on will put me on the map? How to convince my boss to let me do it? Who is the sponsor of the project or product I want to work on?
Remember, there are many paths to reach a goal. But without knowing where you want to go, any path will get you there, which is nowhere.
7. Know how to pushback
Sometimes, you need to know how to push back diplomatically.
Being known to deliver excellent quality work faster will make you a target. People will go directly to you to help them solve their problems. Learn to push back when needed and keep your team, boss, in the loop.
You want to over-deliver on key initiatives that bring value.
8. Be intentional and intelligent about building relationships
The right network gives you access to diverse skill sets, private information, and power. The right sponsor can make it much easier for you to get promoted faster. They will bet on you, and you need that to be promoted, especially for senior roles.
When you find people you want to build relationships with, you need to find ways to intersect with them. The frequency of touch is key. The more they meet you, the more they feel they know you.
Engage in mentoring programs, join fireside chats with leaders and executives, attend town halls and ask questions, have breakfast/lunches with senior executives, learn how they forged their paths, and ask questions, so people will remember you. Many companies create opportunities to meet people. Be memorable.
9. Keep track of your achievements
You need to keep track of all your achievements. We tend to forget about the details.
10. Know your competitive advantage
Everyone can learn programming, maths, etc., but no one can be you. Understand what makes you unique, how you are distinguished, and what you bring to the table. It might be the thing that makes you win a business, a project, or an argument.
11. Bring everyone to the win
Be liberal with the praise and the use of "We."
12. Bonus - Know the numbers
Understand the flow of value, how the company makes money, what value it provides, and how your team influence that value delivery. Understand the cost of delivering that value and how much your team is contributing to that cost.