1. Become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This is a foundation of your career. Clarity around your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses empowers you to know where you need to improve or manage and what skills you can continue to grow into profound strengths. Weaknesses gone unchecked or managed ineffectively leads to career stagnation. Your strengths, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to brand yourself and stand out from the crowd. The first way to increase your awareness is through an assessment. I suggest Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment. Buy the book and you get the assessment free. Another good avenue to gain awareness is to have a conversation with a trusted person where you can ask for honest feedback about your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Look for Opportunities to Lead. This is a simple concept. Those who progress in their careers are those who look for, ask for, and volunteer to lead. Be ready to step up and take responsibility even for smaller projects. This may mean more work, but it also gives you the opportunity to gain exposure and influence others.
3. Brand Yourself. People who brand themselves effectively distinguish themselves from others. Personal branding is marketing and utilizing your strengths to benefit others. First start with #1 above. You have to know your strengths. Then begin thinking about yourself as a business. Ask yourself, “Why would people want to do business with me?” and “How do I brand myself as THE person for a particular skill, trait, knowledge, or work?” Write your own brand statement and create your plan to pursue it.
4. Seek Advocates in Your Business. Different from a mentor, an advocate is someone who is at a higher professional level than you in your company or industry and that you have worked with, supported, or helped at some point. You want to make sure this person has some influence at levels above you in the hierarchy and has a good leadership reputation. Build a professional, mutually beneficial relationship with this person by actively helping and serving them. Go slow with it and don’t ask for anything until it is really important. When you have built credibility you’ll find that this person will actively support you with her/his peers and superiors.
5. Be a Connector. Career RockStars are always seeking to network and get to know more people but not for the sake of filling their contact folder or to become known. Rather, they are seeking to be a connector. Connectors are people who want to help others connect to make everyone more successful in what they do. Connectors stand out in companies not because people know them, but because people trust them.
What are you doing to become a Career RockStar?