The arrival of fall excites me for many reasons: sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, colorful trees lining the streets, and New York Fashion Week, to name a few. Though not the start of the calendar year, the first autumn day always brings the promise of something crisp, something new. Things either start fresh or gain momentum in the fall after a lazy summer season--make sure your business is one of them.
Whether you're starting a business, or are knee deep in it, the following eight tips can help you put your best self forward, even when walking in three-inch heels.
1. Balance passion and skill. It's easy to end up in a career that reflects what we do best rather than what we love to do. The best is often to find a mix of both at the beginning, and then work to transition over time into doing solely what we love most. If you start with passion and skill, it won't be long before you succeed. When starting a business, you sometimes need to use your skill to fund your passion projects.
2. Show your value. The difference between two people with the same resume is this: Only one gets hired because they know how to show why they matter. Before pitching a client, ask yourself what you can contribute to this company that others cannot. Maybe you know something the company doesn't. Maybe you have a great idea for a new client, marketing strategy or business plan that has yet to be considered. Make it clear to your client that your ideas and candidacy are worth extra consideration.
3. Surround yourself with people whom you want to become. Raise the bar and build your networks with others who are living purposeful, inspired lives. You are most like the five people with whom you spend the most time. Choose wisely!
4. Learn how to write an email that people will read. This is not a skill, it's an art. Here are a few tricks: First, avoid starting your emails (as many do) with, "How are you?" People are busy. Instead, start with a brief sentence outlining who you are and why you're writing. Save the niceties for when you meet or exchange more messages--they will appreciate your straightforwardness. Next, make sure to ask the question you want to ask. Don't say, "Let me know if you have time" when you can say something more concrete like, "Can we meet for 15 minutes over coffee in the next two weeks?" Finally, consider what you can offer in return, be it a LinkedIn testimonial, a gratitude tweet, a blog post or an introduction.
5. Make your own luck. Don't accept "no" for an answer. How can you move past an initial rejection? Dig deeper than surface level. Think of creative ways to connect with and help others, even those who have said "no." Reach out when it matters most and make it happen.
6. Differentiate private and public relationships. It's important to keep in mind that a public relationship is not one in which you should seek love and acceptance. Be extra intentional with public relationships, such as the one you have with your boss or founding team. Don't allow any space for confusion about your role or mission.
7. Know the difference between a commitment and a favor. Favors are low-engagement, usually involve some sort of payback and are often one-time only. Commitment, on the other hand, is characterized by confidence, clear goals, common purpose and empowerment. Knowing the difference--and how to use each--can make or break your career.
8. Appreciate others for who they are. Above all, the key to a strong relationship is getting to know someone and trusting them to be who they are instead of who you want them to be. If you allow people to be the best version of themselves, the relationship will be genuine and beneficial to both parties.
To get more career tips, check out the author's How to Get Noticed slideshare. Erica Dhawan is a globally recognized leadership expert, corporate consultant and keynote speaker teaching business leaders creative actions to drive performance, improve innovation with connectional intelligence, and prepare for the global workforce of the future. Follow her at ericadhawan.com, Facebook and Twitter.
She is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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