These days, your position at your present company is not assured. Stability, longevity, your loyalty to one company, and that company’s loyalty to you, are all things of the past.
As a corporate employee you can build your career resilience by adopting the mindset – and practices – of an entrepreneur, even if you never intend to strike out on your own or join a fledgling startup.
Here are some actions and strategies you can borrow from how entrepreneurs think to help you smooth the choppy waters of corporate careerdom:
Be vigilant about your digital brand
Keep your LinkedIn profile and headshot in top-notch shape, as you never know who could be looking. The first thing anyone does when they meet you is Google you. If what they find is a half-baked LinkedIn profile with either no photo or a fuzzy picture of you at a party with someone else cut out of the image, you’ve just lost credibility in the viewer’s eyes. An NYU study shows that people make snap judgments about you on 11 different things within seven seconds of meeting you. Imagine how many fewer seconds you have to make a good impression digitally!
Always have your resume up-to-date
If you haven’t touched your resume in 5, 10, or 15 years, now is the time to do so, even if you have no intention of leaving your company or role. Updating your resume is confidence-builder, because it requires you to do an inventory of your accomplishments. You can see how far you’ve come and the difference you’ve made over the years. You never know when someone, even internally in your company, may ask for your resume to consider you for a promotion or transfer to a new role. And if for some reason you do get laid off or let go, you will be ready to hit the ground running.
Whether or not you consider yourself an official blogger, you have something to say and people want to hear it. Consider starting a regular writing practice around what you are interested in, following, and/or passionate about. You might volunteer to contribute to the company email newsletter or blog—and now it’s super easy to post your musings on LinkedIn as blog posts. If you are ambitious, you might consider writing a white paper that could translate into a keynote talk that you could give at conferences. Carefully curate your perspective so that it reflects your professional brand positively, and also don’t be precious about it. Your perspective is important and needs to be heard.
Ask for feedback
Don’t wait for your performance review to ask your supervisor, customers, and stakeholders how you are doing. Entrepreneurs know that you don’t build anything that doesn’t have a market; therefore, they ask for feedback, conduct surveys, etc. to validate their assumptions that they are on the right track with a project, product, or service they are launching or planning to launch. Having an on-going dialogue – that you ask for – about your performance and progress is a sure-fire way to show humility, openness, and adaptability to your management, and it will help you improve in the fastest way possible.
Network on a regular basis
Get out from behind your computer to attend association meetings, reconnect with fellow alumni from your school, and have lunch and coffee dates with colleagues in different groups in your organization. Be curious in those discussions, asking more questions that you answer, using open-ended questions that invite your conversation partners to expound on what is important to them, the challenges they face, and what help they need. Become indispensable to people working on projects you are interested in, asking how you can help and being generous with you time. Connect with people you meet on LinkedIn to build your network and access to other people. With all the digital resources available now, make strides to make human connections. Not only will you enjoy the richness of these connections, you may open doors for yourself to interesting projects and new opportunities.
Build the plane as you fly it
Entrepreneurs know that you don’t figure everything out before you act. Often, acting is the way you figure things out. By all means do strategic planning, but don’t get so caught up in making things perfect that you get into analysis paralysis and never begin executing a project. With our breakneck speed world and the ability to connect with those around us so easily, getting something started and beginning to talk about it is often the catalyst you need to bring others into your project and have them help you bring it to life. Trial and error is the way to go, one experiment at a time. So, find something you’ve been wanting to do, that you are passionate about, and then do one small thing today to move it forward, knowing you will figure out the rest as you go.
Being an entrepreneur is a mindset, a lifestyle, and an intention. As a corporate employee, you increase your ability to weather any career circumstance by adopting some similar practices.
Do you have more tips that you’d like to share or questions for me? Leave your comments, below, or contact me, here. I’d love to hear from you.