Now, that you’ve gotten yourself on the right career track, it’s time to start thinking about your journey to the C-suite.
That said, it does take some hard work. You can’t just sit back and keep your head down. You need an in-depth knowledge of your industry, some strategic maneuvering, and a lot of proactive action.
If you’re ready to take hold of your future, here’s how to get started:
1. Work for a Company That Needs You
You should always work for an organization that benefits from your presence, a place that provides you with the most possible value. If you’re not meeting your full potential, you’re not in the right place.
By the same token, you should work for a company with a mission you believe in. You can’t rise to your potential within an organization if you don’t share its values. If you aren’t on board with what the company is doing, it probably doesn’t need you — but another company does. For example, an environmentalist architect would be more valuable in an eco-architecture firm than they would be working for a shopping mall developer.
If you’re currently looking for a job, find a company that will benefit from your skills and experience. You need to be of value to the department you land in as well as the company at large. That department will be your springboard for networking and promotion.
If you already have a job, contribute as much as possible. You want to maximize your potential. If you’re not using all of your skills and talents, ask your boss if there is more that you can do to help. Show them you care about the company and want to give all you can.
Try not to get stuck in the same position for too long. You may end up typecast in that role, and it will be hard for the company to see you moving up. If you get stuck in a rut because you’ve become indispensable in your current position, find your way out. Get on a new project that allows you to show the company you could be an even bigger asset if you were moved up the corporate ladder. If you can’t get out of that rut no matter what you try, you might need to look for another job.
2. Connect With Key Players
Networking is a crucial part of your journey to the executive level. You need people who will advocate for you when new opportunities pop up — not only within your own company, but also within your company’s customer base, your industry, and in related industries.
Identify the decision makers at your company and connect with them. Introduce yourself. Let the big players know what you do and how you help the company grow. Don’t be pushy or pitch to them. Just build rapport and prove your value.
Reach out to the CEO, if possible. Marc Benioff was working in a customer support role with Oracle when he caught the attention of CEO Larry Ellison. By the age of 26, he was a vice president of the company.
Be sure to attend events as well. There is a conference for almost everything now. If your company puts one on, find out what you can do to help. If an event hosted by another organization seems like it would benefit you, ask to attend it. If the boss says they can’t spare the money for you to go, bankroll it yourself. Meet people. Mingle. Make connections that benefit both you and your company. Come back with insights to share with your team.
3. Study Your Industry
No matter how advanced you are in your field, there is always more to learn. Keep studying up and acquiring new skills. Take courses that can help you grow in the field. Attend webinars. Read voraciously. Keep up with industry news. Connect on LinkedIn with industry influencers and read what they share.
Think about the future of the industry. Consider where it’s headed and the types of problems that may appear in the future. Think about how to solve those future problems.
The more educated you are and the harder you think about the field, the more of an asset you’ll be to the companies you work for […]