As increased professional competition for top jobs remains tight, young professionals need a detailed plan to build and maintain influence at work. Possessing the knowledge to excel, coupled with a positive professional persona can help you gain the competitive edge.
Top executives are not made overnight. They get to where they are through a long history of careful decisions and years of hard work. Here are some pointers for making sure your efforts to build influence cover all the basics.
Build and Maintain a Public Persona that Perpetuates Success
It is important to make sure that your coworkers see you as a professional. Pay attention to your social media posts. What you post outside of work will reflect on your reputation. The same idea applies to spending time with coworkers outside of work. It can help with networking, but set limits to alcohol consumption. One night of overindulging can lead to countless water cooler talks about how you fell of the stage during karaoke. You want your colleagues to respect you, so you have to behave accordingly. Always refrain from gossip or speaking negatively about coworkers, as this will only serve to reflect poorly on you.
Building an authoritative and responsible reputation isn’t only about what not to do. It requires proactive measures as well. Seek out professional opportunities, attend conferences and join professional associations. Start a blog about your field or look for a mentor. Be willing to put in extra hours, but also be aware of maintaining a healthy balance to support sustained stamina. Getting positive attention for your work efforts will go a long way towards building influence.
Communicating with text jargon and abbreviations may be acceptable among your friends, but it isn’t for the office. When communicating with colleagues at work always use proper language and grammar. Using word like “whatevs” will not impress your colleagues. Take time to proofread correspondence before you send it. Add attachments before beginning an email so you don’t forget later, and post addresses last to avoid sending incomplete email notes. Use phone or in-person communication when delivering sensitive information to show a more mature level of commitment to the team.
Similarly, keep your manner of speaking and appearance dignified as another way to communicate your professional aspirations. Your wardrobe should showcase how committed you are to your career. Look to how your company’s top executives dress and speak for inspiration. However, you must use your discretion. If your boss dresses really causally, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can do the same. High level employees have more freedom, so don’t use their appearance as an excuse to look sloppy at work.
Create a Long Term Strategy to Handle Stressful Situations
Use your mentor to help you devise an effective organizational system and set goals for professional development. As your responsibilities increase, you might get more stressed out than before. Make plans ahead of time to help you manage your new workload. Pace your work with breaks to maintain accuracy and sustained momentum. Document your accomplishments and keep your résumé updated so you will always be ready for opportunity.
Young professionals might have a more difficult time handling conflict than their seasoned colleagues. In the high stress work situations, people might not always be as respectful as you would like. Make sure to take a break and regroup before reacting hastily to a disrespectful coworker. Even if the person is out of line, maintain your composure. An outburst might make you feel better in the moment, but it isn’t worth the damage it can do to your reputation.
Maintain the Highest Ethical Standards
Do not compromise ethics for popularity. A reputation will follow you longer than you think. Be careful to refrain from putting anything in electronic communication that betrays a confidence or reveals sensitive information. Even after being deleted, email can be recovered; anything you type at work is considered your company’s business.
As a young professional, it is important for you to build your personal brand with confidence and authority. Seeking mentoring from highly regarded seasoned professionals, joining professional associations and seeking ongoing career development are all strong ways to stay on the right path to long term success. Using social media and corporate communication channels wisely, maintaining a high regard for peers and exercising best practice standards of ethics will help you build influence that will lead to more opportunities. When you are an executive someday, you can pay it forward by helping to develop the next generation.
This post was provided by Erin Palmer on behalf of the online programs from Villanova University. Villanova offers human resource courses and other programs that help students obtain HR certification. Erin can be reached on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.