The Key To Success: Get Out Of Your Own Way

To get where you want and gain some traction you must push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Take risks. (ie The definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result).

When networking (or otherwise) choose people you admire and respect and take the time in a thoughtful way to approach them for help and guidance.  Be sincerely interested, curious, and open.

When networking exercise: Authenticity. Curiosity. Openness. Reciprocity.

Again, be open. Be authentic, curious, courteous and open. Be willing to return the favor or pay it forward for someone else now or later in the same or a different way.

It is critical to Prepare, Add Value, Network, Take advantage of Training, and Synthesize new information to put your best foot forward at your first job.


Subject matter expertise will only get you so far.

  • Dress to impress - Had to say it based on the P.A.N.T.S theme. :-)

  • Get professional - Shift your social media presence from personal to professional, from engaging with friends to engaging with experts in your field, colleagues and creating content that aligns with your professional skills and interests. Consider a tool like Brand Yourself to clean-up and optimize your online presence and create a professional web presence.

  • Ask questions - Do you know the backstory of your company, your boss, your teammates? How can this info help you?

  • Do you know what emotional intelligence is? Because it will be critical to your success. Start by following Dr. Travis Bradbury and you will get the idea, then you will likely figure it out in 10-40 years :-)

  • Know your story - Prepare for the inevitable moment when someone takes your work for themselves, leaves you out of a group, your first meeting with an executive. This article can help.

Add Value

Read the room to determine the best times to engage and when to keep quiet.

  • Anticipate - Study how your manager presents and writes and ask what format you should provide your work outputs. Research things people will often overlook and offer it to round out your team's work.

  • Stay top of mind - Remind your colleagues to include you and share with you so you can continuously improve. Some questions: Can I see the end product? Can I attend the meeting? What can I do better next time?

  • Document - Take notes without being asked to, every time. This helps make sure you understand the topic at hand and gives you an opportunity to remain top of mind.

  • Practice brevity - Keep your emails and written work concise -- the people you are engaging with are busy. Check out Zak Slayback's guide on Medium.


However, going through the motions will get you nowhere fast.

  • Never eat alone - Schedule at least one networking opportunity each week.

  • Stay focused - Know what you want from each networking meeting. Steer the conversation to your objective. Tip: Your networking goal should not be "can you help me get my next job?"

  • Share - Share your unique perspective. Networking is two-way, and you can add as much value as the person you sought out.

  • Listen - Take note of what is said and how you can apply it. Don't listen to say what's next, listen to learn.

  • Follow-up - Sustain momentum rather than making your meeting a "one and done." Send a thank you note that is memorable and has clear next steps - not just "thanks for your time."


You will likely be exposed to on the job and classroom training that you won't have elsewhere or likely can't afford.

  • Learn new skills - Attend all specialized your industry and company. Learn about yourself and your team through assessments like Myers Briggs and team building exercises. Learn specialized skills on the job. Manage the budget even if numbers threaten you, learn search engine optimization, SAP, how to write an RFP, and other skills.

  • Participate - Jump at the opportunity to attend conferences and take note of how others are solving similar tasks. Always come back with lessons learned and how it can be applied to your team.

  • Build on your current skills- If you are a writer, keep on refining to be more concise. If you are a digital marketer, maybe you can learn about the of dynamics marketing and information technology.


Bring it all together to make your story and personal brand.

  • Practice - Make sure you have a pitch in case you meet the CEO in the hallway.

  • Document- As you learn and have new experiences, regularly update your resume and LinkedIn.

  • Discover - Understand what motivates you and what doesn't.

  • Apply - If something does not feel right, it may not be. Trust your gut, but also talk with someone you trust to guide you.