Six Ways to Rock Your Career

Six Ways to Rock Your Career - here is a quick digest of the pages and pages of notes that I took during last night's workshop with Trista Harris, Executive Director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, author of the New Voices in Philanthropy blog and author of "How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career".

Don't try all of these at once! You can always come back to these - and the rest of the tips in the book as you move forward in your career! (Click panoramic image to enlarge)

1. Develop Expertise
  • Be the first to know about what is happening in your sector and that relates to your job - this will make you the "go-to" person and increase your value at the organization.
  • Do informational interviews with people in other organizations who do your job - build a network of such people so you'll know if you are getting paid a competitive salary compared to your peers.
  • Pay attention to gossip - now, this is not about SPREADING gossip, but it's always useful to know who is making a move, what's changing at an organization and where a position might open up.
2. Build your network
  • Attend conferences - but keep in mind that all of the good stuff happens in the hallway! Figure out how to sit on a panel or volunteer for the conference so you can capture the content without having to pay registration fees.
  • People should hear about you from other people - increase your visibility.
  • Feeling down about your job? Find a group of people who are excited about what they do and peer mentor one another.
3. Establish a Great Personal Brand
  • Consistency, clarity, authenticity - people should see you, talk to you, and talk about you as one person.
  • Be one person - your social media profile is permanent so think about the short-term need v. long-term cost of what you post.
  • Who you are needs to match the person who walks into the room.
  • Be yourself, but in the context of where you are working. Blue hair in a roomful of 65 years olds means you won't be taken as seriously, so figure out how you can be yourself and maintain your creativity while fitting in.
  • Never start a sentence with "Oh I just... (insert how you describe your job)". Start with "I lead (this or that project)" NOT what your portfolio includes.
4. Practice authentic leadership
  • Try leading a committee to gain leadership experience - that way, you can say you've managed people when asked at an interview.
  • Saying "yes" to projects that help raise your standing w/in the organization. "Stretch assignments" help position you in a different way.
  • Mentor somebody else!
  • The advice you give is often the advice you can use yourself.
5. Plan for Balance!
  • If you're burnt out in your job, what you're doing isn't worth much. Figure out what made you fall in love with your job in the first place.
  • Keep a file of Thank You notes to refer back to when you're having a tough day.
  • UN-VOLUNTEER / DON'T VOLUNTEER FOR FREE! You should be getting some new skills out of what you're doing!
6. Move on Up
  • Take a seat at the table. Have you ever been asked to sit along the sidelines? Make sure you get a seat up front.
  • Be paid what you are worth.
  • Keep track of your goals - purchase the Nonprofit Rockstar Workbook that can help you to prioritize what those goals may be.
  • Think 3-4 jobs ahead and consider the fact that what you're doing RIGHT NOW is a stepping stone to get there.

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