Career Woman

How to conquer the hurdles to success

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Being a woman in the professional world comes with a special set of hazards and headaches. Things are getting better, but progress is slow. It helps to have other women in your corner. They can offer solid advice based on their experiences, which can help you navigate your professional world, as well. Jump-start your career, your networking skills, and your personal brand with a bit of assistance from your professional sisters.

Expand your network beyond networking events

Networking is essential for success, but it can get tedious. Still, every event within your organization is an opportunity to network with folks who have the potential to change the course of your career or at least improve your current station.

When the team heads out for happy hour, tag along. Go to the office Christmas party. You may have to push yourself, especially if you have an introverted personality, but you have more chances to network than you think. There’s no reason to restrict yourself to the forced interactions of team-building workshops. While those are valuable, sometimes a low-key conversation with the manager above you can do more for your career.

Become that woman

One way to set yourself apart is to become that woman. You want to be the person with whom everyone else wants to work, and you don’t have to bend over backward to do it. If you’re competent, confident, organized, and thoughtful, people will enjoy working with you. Delegate tasks without shirking your responsibilities. Offer critiques that are valuable rather than cruel. When you’re given a new project, learn everything you can to be as knowledgeable as possible. Be a positive force in the office. That is the professional woman you are.

Ask others for their feedback

Asking for constructive criticism and feedback will make people pay attention to you. It’s rare for professionals to request feedback aside from their scheduled reviews. By regularly requesting constructive criticism from your peers, subordinates, and superiors, you can gauge and tweak your performance. This also keeps you in touch with your colleagues, which further helps to emphasize to others that you’re a woman with a mission.

Use criticism as inspiration

Criticism and negative feedback can come from true concerns, or it can come from someone thinking they wouldn’t complete a task in the method you prefer.

When you do receive criticism, don’t take it to heart and let it break you. Instead, look at negative feedback as an opportunity. Can you be doing something better? Is there another method you haven’t learned? Is the criticism just a difference of opinion, and you don’t need to worry? These are all important questions to ask yourself when you receive criticism.

Sketch out the trajectory of your career

What are your career goals? How do you know what to work towards if you don’t have a plan? Envisioning the course of your career is imperative. It doesn’t mean that you’re disloyal to the position you’re in now, so don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. Thinking about the future is not only smart but also necessary. Know where you want to be in a year, in two, in five, and in ten. You don’t have to shout out your goals to all and sundry, but you can discuss them with your immediate superiors and your mentors.

Play for the team, but don’t lie back in the cut

Teamwork may make the dream work, but you should never give up credit. Work with your team in a way that boosts everyone involved. Inspire them to be better by offering a flawless example. When it comes time to submit proposals or unveil projects, however, you don’t have to turn into a shrinking violet. Take credit for your ideas without undermining the rest of the team or throwing anyone under the bus. Give credit where it’s due, to yourself and to others.

Dress the part

Your outfit can have a surprisingly big impact on your mood. The last thing you need before giving a presentation is to feel self-conscious because you’re underdressed. If you’re wearing an outfit that represents power and confidence, that can make you feel capable and poised while you’re conducting an important meeting.  A sleek black dress or dress pants paired with a professional blazer can go a long way towards making you look and feel like you can conquer a boardroom.

Take every opportunity to learn something new

Never stop learning. Whether you research new training methods and teaching techniques or go for new certifications, you should always try to improve yourself and what you know. For the record, you can also do this with subjects that are only tangentially related to your job. If you’re a sales manager, for example, you can still benefit your position and your office by attending a seminar on smart social media practices or negotiating skills.

Find a mentor—or a friend

Every professional needs a mentor, someone to counsel them and guide them throughout their careers. For women in the workplace, it’s just as important to have a friend, especially if there aren’t many other women in your office. Find someone who’s willing to mentor you, as well as listen, vent, and offer advice. You need the outlet.

About Tess DeNapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.

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