A successful career in business takes guile, training, and a certain amount of flair. You’ll need to polish up your professional persona, learn the specific skills that’ll help you succeed in various roles, and build constructive relationships across the sector. All of this takes time, but starting today will help you get a head start in your career, adding rocket boosters to your career progression. This guide is all about how to prepare for a successful career as a business professional, offering tips to help you perfect your skills and your approach.
What you can expect in this article:
Businesspeople must be professional in order to be respected throughout the industry they choose to work in. That takes some polishing up and some observance of business culture as something that it’s far better to conform to than to deviate from. Some key tips on being professional in the world of business include:
- Wearing smart, professional clothing that is washed and ironed each day
- Being polite and gracious and avoiding informal conversation where it may be inappropriate
- Being fastidiously on time, never missing a meeting, or turning up late for your shift
- Having an excellent phone manner and professional-standard email communication
All of these will help you impress people without rubbing anyone up the wrong way. Business isn’t a personality club – it’s a system for people to work effectively and efficiently in. That means observing timeworn rules about how to behave.
Businesspeople have skills that they bring to bear in a professional setting. Some of these are soft skills, such as people skills and the ability to write an excellent letter or invoice. Other skills must be learned in an educational setting, such as finance skills or the ability to perform business analytics. These skills are most often picked up in college or university, where further education enables people to gather a little more knowledge before they launch into their careers.
You can find an MBA university online that’ll offer you classes that you’ll take on the internet rather than in person. This is perfect for those who would rather not uproot themselves to a university campus or for those who are keen to continue their day job while moonlighting as a student. Business skills will help you climb the ladder faster, better preparing you for the trials of life in business.
Every businessperson needs contacts. Your contact book as a businessperson is a little bible full of professional contacts who may well be able to give you a boost in your career. It’s also something that will impress your superiors in your current job. If you can bring a contact to bear for your company, delivering human resources or consulting advice through your personal network, you’ll be considered a highly useful employee to have on the books.
Still, maintaining strong contacts in the professional world is mostly about giving you opportunities to secure better jobs. Contacts will happily offer you advice if you need it, and some may even become mentors and advisors throughout your career. The only way for you to gain contacts is through networking – something that some people love and some hate.
Networking is about exposing yourself to a crowd of like-minded people and seeing who you click with. It’s also about forcing yourself into conversations where you’ll attempt to woo or charm certain individuals who may one day be able to offer you a job or a promotion. You’ll network at places such as conferences, trade shows, official dinner parties, and other events to which businesspeople are often invited.
Your networking doesn’t stop when you’ve got someone’s number or email address. From that point, you’ll want them to become an established contact in your book. Add them on LinkedIn and like or share their posts from time to time. Keep in touch over messenger or over email about parts of their work. An active contact book is, after all, far more valuable than one that’s dormant. You need to be able to call in a favor – and you’ll only get that treatment from someone you’re continually engaged with.
Whether you’re just emerging from university or you’ve been in a different career for several years, your first job in the professional world of business is an important choice. Whichever firm you pick may well shape your career for years to come. Being a little picky with vacancies is therefore recommended, given that you’ll probably have two to three job offers after a little time spent scouring the market for the best opportunities.
The major item of advice here is to think carefully about what different companies will offer you. You’ll need to pick between:
- High salaries, which are offered by several companies even for starter jobs
- The potential for fast progression within the corporate structure of the firms you’re looking at
- How much valuable experience you’ll be able to receive in the role that you’re applying for
- Whether you will be working with excellent colleagues from whom you’ll learn a great deal
Having thought these elements through carefully, you’ll be confident in whichever first job you eventually choose. That’s the perfect place to be when you’re planning a successful career in business that will be years in the making.
Many people fill desks for years in a company without ever being considered for a promotion. They may well be happy coasting at that level, or they may simply not know how to make more of an impact on the minds of their managers and supervisors. When you’re working in your first job, you’ll want to be the kind of person who turns heads and impresses managers. And that means seizing opportunities wherever you come across them, including:
- Networking opportunities, either internally or with clients and customers
- The opportunity to learn something new, even if that means increasing your workload
- Opportunities to work directly for a senior manager or colleague, to whom you’ll show off your skills
Such examples are the opportunities that can often decide the trajectory of a career. A smart, aware and responsive worker, you’ll know when to make use of any opportunity that poses you by, which will soon see you noticed and promoted for your guile and energy.
Seeking promotions is, of course, a huge part of your journey towards a successful career. Without regular promotions, you’ll find yourself stagnating while other colleagues pass you by on the path to seniority. Promotions come in all shapes and sizes, but you should seek them wherever they turn up. Some might be in your team, while others might see you relocate to a different office or even a different country. Some will even be in different companies entirely.
The reason you should seek promotions is not related to the salary boost you’ll receive. It’s because achieving promotions fast, especially in the early part of your career, is something that will always impress hiring managers and business leaders when they look over your resume. It’ll single you out as a hard worker who hit the ground running and barely stopped in their path to promotion.
Eventually, you’ll find yourself managing a small team, which entails an entirely unique set of skills that many people only pick up when they begin managing. You can take a head start here, too, by reading books on management, taking a management course, or watching lectures on good management on YouTube. You can also approach senior managers you’ve worked with before or managers you have in your personal or professional networks for advice on how to be a savvy manager.
Managing is something that many senior business people enjoy. It gives them a chance to direct a team to produce results as effectively and efficiently as possible. People management is satisfying because you’ll often help your team reach new heights of productivity, giving them incentives that’ll motivate better and better work. Prepare for your first management role, and you’ll be up to speed before you know it with this new responsibility.
Given all of the above, it might seem odd to conclude this guide with caution to be patient. Making a successful career in business is certainly about rushing towards opportunities, getting yourself educated as soon as possible, and finding the promotions and management positions that’ll eventually see you promoted to the top of your given field. Yet there are moments when you’ll also need to be patient, getting your head down and working hard.
Every day in your career shouldn’t be about how you’ll achieve further success. Sometimes, weeks will go by, projects will commence and conclude, and you’ll be too exhausted from your work to put in the extra effort to achieve a promotion. That’s fine – it happens to everyone, and you certainly don’t want to find yourself burned out and unable to work at all. Give yourself a break from time to time, and bide your time too, so that you’re ready and able to run at the next big opportunity that comes your way.
Use these career tips to help you plan the steps you’ll take in order to become a successful businessperson. If you can observe these tips over the long term, you’ll stand a brilliant chance of achieving multiple promotions over your career.