One of the biggest mistakes that I see women make when it comes to career development is that we fail to unite with other women or allies in our industries. We seem to have developed a sense that we have to go it alone. That, however, is the complete opposite of what you should be doing when you’re trying to develop your career. You should find and unite with like-minded people; your tribe. Your tribe consists of the people who support and compliment you. Establishing a tribe increases your influence and network and can help develop your morale and tenacity when times get tough at work. While you do want to shy away from involving yourself in gossipy cliques at work, you don’t want isolate yourself and avoid connecting with colleagues at the detriment of your career development. Find your tribe!
The second mistake that women make is failing to volunteer or assert ourselves. If you have aspirations to get promoted or be noticed in your industry, you can’t sit back and wait for somebody to call on you. Passiveness does not get you noticed. Instead, you must assert yourself, raise your hand, volunteer, say, “pick me, pick me.” Although being assertive may be counterintuitive for some of us, it is imperative if you want to be noticed and respected; given the label of “boss.”
The third mistake I see a lot of women make is failing to go to the extracurricular work activities. By extracurricular activities, I mean those work-related/sponsored happy hours, games and other events that your colleagues attend. I know, I know…you’re so busy trying to get home to your real friends, your families and other obligations that you just don’t have time for those boring, corny conversations with those people you work with. But those conversations and events are key to establishing your career growth. Attending work events, schoomzing with colleagues allows you to develop key connections and trust with the people who will be instrumental in pushing your ideas and plans forward. It is during the post-work events and among those close professional relationships that decisions are being made about you, your career and your workplace. You want to be a part of those conversations and looked upon favorably by the big decision-makers. So go have that drink at happy hour.
The fourth mistake that I see women make is that we fail to ask. We fail to ask for more money, for more responsibility, for promotions, or for help. If you want something in your career that you don’t have, ask for it. Sometimes we’re not getting positions, the salaries and the opportunities that we want because we are not making it known that we want those things. If you need help figuring out how to ask for what you want, click here and here. You are more than capable of handling those dream tasks and roles that you want, so open your mouth and let people know that you are by asking for more.
The fifth mistake that women make is failing to get mentors. I have done an episode of Workin’ Women Wednesday on the importance of mentorship; check it out for a more detailed discussion, but you should know that a mentor can change the trajectory of your career. A mentor allows you to bounce ideas off of them, provides experienced advice, and can help you develop footing and confidence in your industry. All of these things help you navigate whatever industry you’re in, with more assurance and fewer mistakes. So get the mentor.
The sixth and final common mistake that women make is we that fail to get sponsors. Sponsors are just as important as mentors. The sponsors are people who are your professional seniors who can and do speak up for you in the times when you need them to. They vouch for you, provide you with necessary opportunities and offer you assistance. This connection requires that you work hard and perform in a way that makes your sponsor shine, but it is worth its weight in gold. You can learn more about sponsors here.
Do some self-assessing. If you find out that you’re making any one of these six mistakes, make the necessary adjustments so that you can stop stunting your career development. If you’d like more tips like these from me and other successful women, check out the GladiatHers Women in Sports Empowerment Summit on January 30, 2019, in Atlanta, GA. The panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities will all be centered around making you the success story you were meant to be! Get your tickets here.