I am an introvert, and networking has always been difficult for me, but I have always known that networking would be the key to reaching my professional goals. I have found that giving myself a challenge is the best way to take my networking to the next level.
In 2011, I challenged myself to meet with four people I didn’t know and four people I did know each month in my 4X4 networking challenge. I learned so much from meeting 96 people in my 2011 challenge but I wanted to take it to the next level. So at the beginning of 2012, I set another networking challenge for myself to interview 50 successful women about their career and professional success.
To date, I have interviewed 27 successful women including authors, CEOs, professors, entrepreneurs, career coaches and fashion consultants. I have found that each one has something special to share. My favorite part of each interview is the last question:
“What do you wish you would have known as a young professional woman just starting out in her career?”
I have found that this little answer always gives me something that I can apply immediately to my own career and life. Here are the top five things that successful businesswomen wish they would have known before starting out in their careers:
1) Don’t Do What You Should Do, Instead Do What You Want To Do
“I wish that I had always done what I wanted to do instead of what I felt like I should do. It’s so easy to just go along that path with what you should do. You can save yourself so much time and trouble if you just start with what you want to do.”
-Advice from Kimberly Palmer, Author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back and a personal finance columnist at US News & World Report.
2) It’s OK To Change Your Career Direction
“I wish I would have known that the career I started in didn’t necessarily have to be the career I stopped with. I was really stressed when I started out because I picked this plan and I didn’t really like it as much as I thought I would. I didn’t really know that I could be flexible. I wish I would have known that I could have left that path earlier and gone on and done something else. There is freedom in your career and you don’t have to stick with one career. “
-Advice from Chachanna Simpson, Small Business, and Life Coach at Your Stellar Star.
3) Take The Time To Learn About Yourself and Your Values
“I wish I would have known more about myself. Once I recognized what my personal values were, it felt like everything just came into place so quickly. As you know yourself and you know what is important to you and the lifestyle that you want to live, then you can start crafting a career that can meet your personal and professional needs. And to know that there are careers out there that are going to hit on all of the things you love and make you feel fulfilled, alive and that you are making a valuable contribution to the world! So know yourself and everything will fall into place!”
– Advice from Sarah Ward, Image Consultant, and Owner of Cable Car Couture Image Consulting.
4) It’s OK to Make Mistakes
“It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to do something that you wish you hadn’t done, because if we don’t do those things we never grow. The most important thing is that we all keep growing and that we all keep learning. A terrible mistake is to think you know everything. We are all flawed. Put yourself out there and do big things! If something doesn’t go right, make your apologies and don’t do it the next time.”
-Advice from Dawn Stanyon, Professional Image Consultant, Blogger at Professionality, and Director of Sales at The Emily Post Institute
5) You Need To Promote Yourself
“You need to promote yourself. You are going to have great bosses and bosses you don’t love but the only person that will speak for your goals and how well you are doing is you yourself. Really use your voice to show people that you know what you are doing and promote yourself within the company because no one else is going to do that for you. Have that confidence to say hey, ‘I do a good job.’ I think sometimes people expect other people to do that for them but you need to push yourself.”
– Advice from Jen Worman, Co-Founder of a jewelry design company called T+J designs
Now, since I do love challenges, I have a little challenge for you. This week, find a mentor or a person who you admire and ask them this question, “What do you wish you would have known as a young professional woman just starting out in her career?” The answer may change your life and future success just like it has for me.
What have you learned from other women?
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