Submitted by: Joyel Crawford, CEO, Crawford Leadership Strategies, LLC

I’ve coached a lot of folks in my day. Most advice naturally comes from my own personal experiences of navigating the direction of my career. Many of the action items I share with clients take a lot of work and effort but like with anything you really desire- the hard work can pay off.

You can’t just sit on the sidelines and wait for the opportunity to fall in your lap. You have to go out there and shake some hands and kiss some babies. Ok, you don’t have to kiss babies, but you do need to pound the pavement and get the word out that you stand for your own professional growth and development. I call these actions campaigning for your career.

Here are some steps to run for “office” in your office:

  • Determine Your Platform 
    1. What do you stand for?  What is your career mission/goal? Take some time and marinate on what you want to do in your organization. Brainstorm it out.  I knew where I wanted to go next on my first day of work.  During a career development meeting, I shared these goals with my Supervisor and we developed a strategy. He became my running mate.  It’s up to you to know where you want to go and ask for help along the way.
    2. Develop your campaign “slogan.” Create a quick sound bite or elevator pitch to inform mentors, recruiters or possible networking connections of who you are and your career goals.
  • Get On The Campaign Trail
    1. If you haven’t already, join professional organizations that interest you.   Attend events that will give you visibility, network to get your contact information out there.  This is where you will get your face out there and noticed.
    2. If you’re growing within your organization, develop projects that will increase revenue and share best practices.  If there’s a department you want to work in, make sure you connect with the department head and develop ways to make that department and ultimately the company successful.
  • Don’t Just Focus On The Big Donors
    1. The people who will help you get where you want to go don’t always hold the highest positions. There are mentors (campaign supporters) of different levels of influence all around you.  How well do you work with your fellow teammates? Don’t forget that people of influence don’t always have to be the CEO of the organization.  The key is to seek out leaders at all levels to learn and grow with them.  Fostering solid business partnerships is key to building your support system.
  • Invest In Your Cause
    1. Campaigning for your career will take up a few resources like money, time and energy. If you’d like to get a career coach, take a prep course for a certification to build your skills, or get a degree you may need some financial support.  See if your company has a tuition assistance program or provides discounts for certifications related to your field. Look online for scholarships and grants that may support you desire to grow.
    2. Be mindful that your commitment to career growth may mean giving back to the organization that supported you. A lot of companies that provide assistance will ask for you to commit several years to support the business’ growth.  Keep your commitment.  You’ll definitely build more bridges staying and developing more than hitting the proverbial piggy bank and running.
  • There Is Such A Thing As Bad Publicity When Developing Your Career
    1. Be present on social media in responsible and professional way. Be mindful that recruiters and companies may look at sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to check out wh