I am not a career expert or coach, so let's get that out of the way. What I know isn't based on extensive studies or reseach, just my own work experience and career. But I thought I'd share the three habits that I think have helped me in my career because you might find them helpful. And I'd love to hear what you think has helped you in your job and career, so comment away at the end of this article.
Habit #1: I make it personal.
This might sound a bit strange, but I've found it to be powerful: I try to create a personal connection with anyone I interact with at work. Clients, bosses, colleagues, assistants, service providers, conference organizers, people I meet at networking events--I get personal. This doesn't mean that I start telling them about the last fight I had with my husband or what type of underwear I like. But I do try to share some personal details and make our relationship less shallow than just about work.
Sometimes I genuinely like the person so talking to her about my personal interests or motivations is easy. But often I do it with someone I don't really like because I find that it helps our professional relationship be stronger--and helps me get what I need out of it.
Habit #2: I don't mind my business.
At each of my jobs, I've always tried to make sure that I learn about the other parts of the business or company and meet people from other departments. When I was in consulting I made up a tech issue with my computer so I could meet the tech support team. I stayed while they worked on my computer, made some friends, and later was able to use their connections to get staffed on some tech projects I really wanted to try. (I remember how shocked they were that a business person would care to learn about what they were doing!)
Habit #3: I write a lot of things down.
I learned that writing things down is a good workplace skill by accident. At my first job out of college I went to a meeting with a bunch of higher-ups and kept careful notes, mostly because it made me look less stupid than just sitting there and not talking. After the meeting I typed them up and emailed them around to those who were at the meeting--the feedback and thanks were great. So I learned to keep good notes in meetings, send emails when a big project ended with a summary of what we did and accomplished, or do things like send periodic notes to my bosses with what I was working on. I've found that this has helped tremendously with things like asking for a raise, promotion, or holding my own when a not-so-nice colleague tries to blame me for his error.