Throughout my career, working in both corporate settings and on my own, I’ve discovered several universal business practices that apply in all situations. Here are a few of my personal “rules of thumb” when it comes to managing a career:
Make every attempt to respond to emails before the end of the day. Even if it’s to say, “I don’t have the answer for you right now, but I will get back to you by (time).” It shows you’re both responsive and responsible, and it’s also a solid indicator of how you are to work with. Just remember to follow up on your word, and get back to your contact, client or co-worker when you said you would (if not before).
Take time to write a handwritten thank you note. Hardly anyone does this anymore, especially with the popularity of texting and emailing. More often than not, the person I sent the note to mentions how much he/she appreciates it. Sending a handwritten note is a classy touch, and one way you will stand out in the business world.
Don’t discuss budget matters over email. It’s best to do this in person, or if that’s not possible, over the phone. As we know well, it’s easy to misconstrue the tone of communications over email. Once you have a budget conversation in person, then you can send an email to confirm the numbers agreed upon.
Don’t dress for the job you have, but for the job you want. I heard this from a colleague early in my career. Simple, yet fantastic advice. People always notice how we present ourselves, and what that says about us. At a recent luncheon, I heard fashion guru, Tim Gunn, state, “The clothes we wear send a strong message on how the rest of the world perceives us.” Why not dress the part?
Think of networking in a different way. Instead of wondering what someone can do for you, ask instead, “What can I help you with?” Networking goes two ways — the more we help others, the more we help ourselves. Not only is networking important in developing your career, but it can also foster new friendships and opportunities.
Stay connected. It’s also important to stay connected to your network on a regular basis. Don’t meet for coffee just once; stay in touch periodically with your network, such as a meeting every other month. Not many people do this consistently. I always remember the ones who do.