12 Most Savvy Ways to Get Ahead

12 Most Savvy Ways to Get Ahead

Blatant, persistent self-promotion puts people off. And it’s never a smart approach for people who want to advance professionally. But in a job market as competitive as it is today, sitting back will get you nowhere — literally.

So, how to strike a balance between boasting shamelessly and saying nothing? Doing these 12 things will keep you connected and ready to seize opportunities, like a pro!

1. Blog

Blogging is such a great way to show your expertise and ability to write, think and analyze. Current and potential employers desperately seek these skills. Demonstrating you have them can boost your career prospects.

2. Keep your LinkedIn profile smart and snappy

This is free marketing.  And it’s a powerful platform if you take advantage of it. More than 8 in 10 big companies use the site to recruit, new research shows. Prune words or phrases that are overused or vague. Make the effort to make your profile work for you.

3. Say yes…

…to a project at work that involves getting to know people, products or processes you don’t know already. Opportunities often come from within the same organization. Doing this will give you new skills and increased visibility to managers and colleagues who might not know about you.

4. Read

Stay current with your industry, and the changes and trends in it. Reading articles and blog posts will expose you to important developments and can reveal new work-related prospects or clients.

5. Congratulate peers

When you see a colleague get promoted, publish something, change jobs or do something else pretty neat, send an email, a Tweet or note by LinkedIn. Reach out and congratulate them. If you do this actively, you will find this leads to amazing referrals and connections to draw on later.

6. Volunteer

Do more of what you really love to do as a volunteer. Think of it as strategic volunteering. My background is in in journalism. So I have volunteered by giving presentations to nonprofits about media relations, by mentoring the CEO of a start-up company about marketing and by guiding a journal-writing session for clients served by a nonprofit whose mission I love.

7. Meet to eat

Keith Ferrazzi, master networker and founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight shows in his best-seller “Never Eat Alone” how to connect with people and build a network without becoming a jerk. You can’t make those connections and relationships with your head stuck in your cubicle. If you’re in a lunchtime rut, this is the time to reach out to new contacts and head out of the office.

8. Invest in yourself

A college Master’s degree is worth $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. It’s not easy to go back to school after you’re already working, but it’s never too late to do it. I’m back in school in my mid-40s.

9. Join

Be selective, but join groups that will deepen your professional knowledge. Often, through such memberships, you’ll get to take advantage of professional development. You’re also bound to make relevant connections in your field.

10. Pay it forward

Offering help, even when there is no clear return, pays off. Maybe not right away. And, maybe, not in an obvious way. But by reaching out and offering support to a colleague or mentoring a newbie, you’ll cement a bond you can call on if you ever need a favor from that contact. Sometimes, it just helps the person seeking help. That’s okay, too.

11. Connect virtually

Stay open to the prospect of learning through, and with, people you meet on social media sites. You’ll discover people who have some of the same interests you do, which is helpful if your company or market is small. Mine these relationships and give back online, as well. Doing so will offer rich lessons you might not have learned otherwise.

12. Stay curious

This is helpful, of course, in arenas outside the professional realm. But it’s also a good reminder to keep learning, questioning and growing. My mom used to tell us that the only people who get bored were those who let themselves get bored. Seek, explore, do!

Staying on top of your game, professionally, is not easy. It takes attention and work. But it’s critical in keeping your skills and contacts fresh, and in letting colleagues, managers and potential employers know about you and your work. What are the tactics you use?

Featured image courtesy of Éole via Creative Commons.

Becky Gaylord


Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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@faustinecurry This was a very informative article. Thanks for posting. :)


You definitely covered the important ones, Becky. I've really enjoyed taking the "Connect Virtually" to the next level by having Skype/Google+ Hangouts to get to know my tribemates even better. I think it deepens the relationships that you start with just social networking.


I also encourage introverts to consider board positions in professional organizations. Be prepared to work, but then you will have people initiate conversation with you more readily as they ask for information about the organization. That's a great option for those of us who struggle with ice-breakers ;)


@ImagineNewYou @12Most Thanks for retweeting.


Nice collection of ideas. I like the fact that you included meeting to eat and curiosity.


Amazing tips here! Blogging was super helpful for me and my career. Although my blog was tiny when I started, I put it on my resume anyway. The ideas were unique enough to get the attention of hiring managers. 


 @dbvickery I need to do more with and on Skype. That's a good reminder, Brian. Thanks. The many other channels we have to connect with people who aren't in the same office or town (or state or country) affords some amazing opportunities for personal and professional growth and networking and learning.