Career advancement doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. There are the few exceptions where someone rises inside an organization so quickly that your head spins.

For most of us, career advancement takes thoughtful planning and execution of specific doable items. Your career trajectory is dependent on a number of factors, such as:

  • Your connectivity and relationships
  • Other people’s perceptions of you

Here is a list of nine things you can do now to move your career forward. Many of the suggestions require a long-term commitment to realize gains, but it can be accomplished with a consistent moderate effort.

  1. Start connecting with people today outside your organization. I can’t emphasize this point enough. When I talk to people about their level of networking activities, the overwhelming response is that they don’t network enough or that they do not need to network because they have a job. Networking is not about finding a job; it is a skill that helps you advance your career. Develop a list of meetings, conferences or special interest groups where you would like to focus your networking activities. Don’t plan on doing all of them, commit to attending one event a month and increase your activity if it makes sense.
  2. Find a way to stay in contact with people you network with. Utilize a professional networking site such as LinkedIn is a good way to do that because if someone leaves their employer, there is a good chance they will update their profile or status. The main reason people do not use LinkedIn is because they think it will take a lot of time. Limit yourself to 10-15 minutes a week and you’ll be surprised how quickly your network will grow.
  3. Develop a check list of people to develop relationships with inside your organization. Include people who are outside of your discipline or group and your boss’s peers. Schedule meetings over the next several months. Be prepared with a list of questions that demonstrates your interest in their initiatives.
  4. Request a meeting with your boss’s boss to discuss your career aspirations or to ask advice on how to prepare for future opportunities. Let your boss know in advance that you would like to set up this meeting. You want their support.
  5. Join a team or project that helps you develop a skill you need for future career advancement. It is better to learn from others instead of trying to go solo.
  6. Offer to mentor someone in the organization that is not direct report. Organizations ask role models to be mentors. This is subtle way to establish credibility and confirm your career worthiness inside an organization.
  7. Think about education. Many employers offer to reimburse tuition for coursework taken relevant to your job.  If you have the fortitude to get an advanced degree, go for it. Don’t overlook the certificate programs associated with many of the disciplines, especially in areas of new technology or practices.
  8. Create your own career plan. Think about what you want to be when you grow up – in 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. Dream about your future. Without a dream, you can’t make a plan.
  9. Do something for fun that stretches you personally. Take a dance class, learn to woodwork, travel to a new place, start new hobby or practice an instrument you played as a kid. Versatility is a desirable career trait.

Share your favorite career advancement secret that has helped your career.