28 January 2019   |   by JESSICA NWUZI   
There’s so much attention right now on female entrepreneurship and while we support this, we believe the spotlight should also be given to career women in equal measure.

That’s why our #9to5Chick segment was launched and we are always super excited about the articles and women we feature under this segment.

For many of the women we have featured, one thing is clear, they have taken full responsibility for their careers and manage it like it is a business. We’ve gleaned 7 key tips on how to do this and of course, we’ve decided to share it with you. So make sure you share with others as well.

1. Love what you do…no really…love what you do

This phrase has been repeated so often it has very nearly become cliché. Honestly, the only way to implement any of the other 6 tips in this article is to be genuinely interested in what you do. So many of us are stuck in the careers either out of fear or because we’ve ‘somehow’ found ourselves in that position. But in order to really grow your career and demonstrate the grit, focus and determination required, you’ve got to love what you do.

2. Your career is your responsibility so have a plan.

Your career is your business. Manage it like you would a start-up or an enterprise. Realise from today that you and not your current or future employer drives your career. And just like any driver knows, you must have a destination before you start driving. So ask yourself, what do I want to achieve in my career? What are my key skills? How can I improve them? Are these skills still relevant in today’s market? What companies require these skills? Can the skills I have take me to where I want to be in my career in the next 5 years? How will I measure my career growth? Is my current position a representation of my skill level and ambition? These questions will help you think critically about your career and its future trajectory.

3. Understand that reputation is everything

The more you see your career as a business, the more you realise the importance of your reputation and brand. Think of big companies and even emerging companies, all of these take branding seriously. So ask yourself, what do I want to be known for? What value do I bring to an organisation? How can I demonstrate this value in all I do? How can I increase performance and visibility? How can I work better with my colleagues, subordinates and superiors? The best way to achieve this is to practice self-awareness, understand your strengths and limitations and use them to your advantage. Remember you are a brand and you must protect the image of that brand.

4. Be a leader- but first lead yourself

Most times we tend to see leadership as a thing of position. It isn’t. Leadership starts first with self. It is about discipline and promoting unity towards a common goal. Leadership is about influence. And if you want to influence people you must start with yourself.

So this means developing yourself. Honing your skills, regardless of whether the company is paying for that course in Dubai or not. Understand your sector. See beyond your job responsibility and how your role intersects with others. Set your own personally determined KPIs, be the master of your field.

5. Understand your competitive advantage

Every company regularly accesses their competitive advantage and uses that as a tool to attract clients and customers. You should do the same. Perform a SWOT analysis. How does this compare with the best people in your field? I once met someone who said, he had a list of people in his dream job and he read their profile and enrolled in the courses they took and developed similar skills to them.

I thought it strange, but fast forward a few years and he now has his dream job. Talk about intentionality! While I am not advocating a ruthless takeover or mentality, but if you want to excel it does pay to see what others in your field are doing and how to hone your skills accordingly.

6. Network like your life depends on it…because it may

Gone are the days when people stayed in their little cubicles, churned out work and got promoted. If you want to excel in your career, you got to develop relationships. Now I don’t mean paying lip service or kissing your boss’ backside every so often. I mean attending industry events, regularly meeting with sector experts in your field or related areas. The best way to network is to be genuinely interested in what other people do. A lot of us believe networking is about meeting the big names. It isn’t. The partnerships and friendships you make today could help in 5years’ time…who knows?

It’s also important that you feed your networks. Keep in touch with them. Call, email, send helpful articles you’ve found. Be useful. That’s how people remember you.

7. Get a mentor and become one

Mentorship isn’t only for female entrepreneurs. Do you want to become the CFO of a multinational organisation? Find a mentor who currently does that. Mentors not only open doors, they help open your mind as well. A good mentor will also ensure you avoid the mistakes they made as well.

I also find that many people seek mentors but don’t create a continuous chain of giving back by becoming mentors as well. Find a young intern in your company and mentor them. Teach them the ropes, help them brush up their skills. Give them advice. The ripple effect isn’t only worthwhile but also helps you to keep abreast with younger generation and other ways of doing things.

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