Most of the best career advice isn’t learned in school or discussed during formal annual reviews. They’re the priceless nuggets of wisdom you tend to learn through the school of hard knocks instead – sometimes too late. One of the best gifts that seasoned leaders can give to college graduates is practical, candid feedback on what they really need to know to succeed in the “corporate jungle.”
In classic David Letterman style, here are my top 10 career advice tips for college graduates and early career professionals:
#10 Build relationships before you need them
Don’t wait until you need something to have a substantial discussion with your team leader or other key executives. A crisis is a real buzz kill for relationship building so avoid building relationships in the midst of a crisis and instead build them before you need them. Director of Columbia University’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Programs, Beth Fisher-Yoshida discusses the importance of relationship building in 5 Ways to Develop More Meaningful Relationships at Work.
#9 Learn your boss’ communications preferences early and adapt to them
When you adjust your style to better fit your manager’s communication/work style preferences, you become easier to manage – and that’s a good thing! This becomes even more important when you encounter that unavoidable “difficult boss” which research shows will likely happen at some point. Learning effective managing up techniques can mean the difference between success and failure when faced with a challenging boss personality.
#8 Don’t hide your awesome
Inexperience can be an asset so use it! Don’t hold back on sharing a completely different idea or approach, or questioning if there might be a better way. Your lack of “experience” could be the key to innovation so leverage that. If you’ve developed a template for tracking incoming orders or have used an amazing app for researching vendors, share that with your team. If there’s momentum around an area where you have expertise, don’t be afraid to volunteer to lead the effort. Remember that you don’t have to know everything to take lead on a project or task.
#7 Become the go-to person for something valuable
I like to say it’s not just “what you know and who you know” but also “who knows you and what you’re known for.” Becoming known as the Prezi, Slack or Sharepoint expert not only builds your organizational credibility, but it also creates demand for your participation in a wide range of projects that you may not have otherwise had exposure to. Stay attuned to the high demand skill sets in your industry or organization and develop deep skills in an area that is highly valued. If you become known as the resident Prezi expert in the company, you might find yourself working directly with the EVP on her upcoming board presentation and that one on one face time can prove invaluable. Over time you’ll want to be careful not to become pigeon-holed into one particular skill set, but building extreme competency in a few areas early is virtually always a smart move.
#6 Fiercely manage your personal brand
Just as the brands Tiffany, Coke and McDonalds evoke very specific sentiments as you think about them, your name has the same impact when others hear it. Decide what you want people to think about when your name is mentioned, then get about the business of building and managing your personal brand. Whether it’s your dress, lunch buddies, cell phone ring or email syntax, remember that with every choice you’re reinforcing your personal brand. Joseph Liu’s 5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand At Work insists that brand building isn’t just for executives; it’s for everyone.
To read the full article by Dana Brownlee, visit it here at Forbes.com.