10 Ways To Have Your Best Year At Work In 2016



Jan. 29 2016, Published 4:00 a.m. ET

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If there is one mantra to glue to your wall this year it’s to take risks, because you’ll never get what you don’t ask for.

New York Women In Communications’ Young Professional’s Committee started the new year off right with their sold out event, “New Year, New You: Have Your Best Year Of Work Ever!” With great networking sessions to start things off, close to 100 women sat together in Sarabeth’s at Lord & Taylor’s on 5th Avenue in front of a prestigious panel of women ready to spill their stories.

Moderated by CNN Political Commentator Tara Setmayer, the panel included Karyn Benvenuto of Lord & Taylor, Lea Goldman of Marie Claire Magazine, Emma Gray of The Huffington Post, Elle Kaplan of LexION Capital, and Lindsay Moroney of The Muse. The audience was able to leave with countless gems of advice, from everything on how you can handle challenging conversations at work to finding the motivation to ask for everything you desire in your career. Additionally it is through storytelling and mentorship that so many of us, like here at Her Agenda, are continually motivated, inspired, and fueled to work towards our dreams.

In the midst of working to keep all our resolutions, here are ten sure fire ways to have your best year of work in 2016:  

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1. Follow A Diverse Group

Lea Goldman advises, “follow a diverse group.” It is great to be passionate about the things we love, but it’s equally important to stay educated and aware of the world around us, including those with opposing points of views. There are countless social media outlets and apps, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and more to alert us on whatever it is we desire. By staying more informed on opposing view points and a wider net of news around the globe, you can be guaranteed to stay in the know during networking events, interviews, and everyday conversations at work. You never know who will be listening, connecting, or identifying with you, solely based on your diverse knowledge of the world. You can pursue this path by following various perspectives on Twitter, as well as keeping a long, mixed list of publications stacked on your nightstand covering everything from The New York Times to Glamour to The Fader to The Economist to TIME and more.

2. Accrue Goodwill

According to Lea Goldman, in order to grow your latitude at work, you first need to accrue goodwill. When you first start at any new job you will have little latitude to say no. Instead, it is in your best interest to gain goodness through a strong performance while essentially always looking for ways to best give your boss everything he or she needs. This will inherently make your boss’s job easier and grant you room to continue gaining latitude. Once you climb the ranks you will then be able to choose how to most effectively prioritize your time and assignments.

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3. Ask For What You Want

It is plain and simple, yet we don’t nearly remind ourselves of this enough – if you don’t ask, you won’t get. No matter what college you graduate from, networking event you attend, or interview you bask in – you will never get those coffee dates, phone interviews, or promotions unless you ask! No matter what, even if you don’t get it then, don’t get discouraged. Instead, always follow up, advises Emma Gray. Whether that be three or six months in the future, be vigilant in going after exactly what you desire.

4. Use Affirmations

The more you think it, the greater chance you have at getting it. Sure affirmations can be awkward and difficult at first, but they work. Karyn Benvenuto recommends reciting positive affirmations on a regular basis. This is most effective when looking in the mirror. Repeat mantras like these out loud, especially before a big interview or event:

  • “I’m going to rock this interview
  • “I love myself
  • “I’m ready to receive this amazing job!”
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5. Hone Your Skills

It can be easy to forget the value of our life experience and skills when worried about what degrees and certificates we do or do not posses. As we grow and change ideas of our ideal career, many of us toy with thoughts of going back to school or gaining a degree in a brand new field. There’s no one right answer to the dilemma, but what really matters is what your work can speak to.

“It’s more about what you say and do than the level of degree you have,” explains Emma Gray. For industries such as media, it’s a mixed bag – it’s more about what your skills and work speak to than your experience in school. In addition to graduate programs there are many professional certificates, courses, and webinars to help you with the specific skills you’re looking to gain.

6. Dress Your Best

Similarly to getting ready for a first date, you will never feel your best, most confident self, if you’re not feeling how you look. “You have to wear what you feel good in and represents you,” said Karyn Benvenuto. The key to the perfect outfit is to create a blend of pieces you feel confident in and describe your personality, while keeping in mind the culture of the industry and company you are interviewing with. 

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7. Learn To Say No

The sooner you learn how to say ‘no,’ the better. It is also crucial to know what and when to say no to. Learn the difference between a challenge and someone taking advantage of your time, the difference between not having enough time to commit, and being fearful of not doing a great job.

As Emma Gray recommends, “The best way to say no is to make actionable, alternative suggestions.” Through excellent strategy and follow-through, you can successfully say no without tarnishing your reputation, respect, and reliability.  

Here are some great examples of how to say and present your best no’s –

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8. Timing

If you know your timing, you will have your top chances of success. Do your research before asking for a raise or promotion – if the climate in your company isn’t right, your odds will be majorly cut. Regularly look to see how a company is doing financially in the market, and any recent changes in executive staff and owners. Take advantage of timing whether that be through completion of new accomplishments or contacts in the game.

Stay focused like Emma Gray who was wise enough to use her foresight an ask for an interview with The Huffington Post after being bought by AOL, who was also the present owner of the company she was currently working under. Due to her honest, respected relationship with her higher up, her impeccable timing led her to take advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself. The lesson here is, use your instincts, follow your gut, and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

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9. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

“If you’re starting out, just to break the ice, ask for $5K more,” says Lea Goldman, “No one is going to rescind a job offer for $5K.” This is crucial because as studies show most women negotiate significantly less than men, if any at all. As women, we tend to doubt ourselves and our worth to ask for more, but why not? “I assume people are going to negotiate,” explains Lindsay Moroney. “The worse they can say is no.” Whether through role playing, or practicing having tough conversations it’s essential to try.

The issue has become so dire, in some companies such as Elle Kaplan’s LexION Capital, she decided to do away with negotiating all together. She noticed the gap between men and women were so extreme, that she made the move to change the culture and only give her best offer. The problem with no negotiating is once men and women start off at the same position with different pay, their salaries will be impacted for the rest of their careers. This difference is so inherent, Lea Goldman advises to make up for the gender gap and ask for 20 percent more of the given offer. It’s a start right?

It’s so important to ask for that raise because if you don’t it can impact your salary for the rest of your career @ellekaplan#nywiciyopro

— NY Women in Comm. (@NYWICI) January 14, 2016

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10. Leverage Your Story

Yes, it’s how we convey and illustrate our skills and experience that gets us ahead, but at the end of the day we have to do even more to illuminate us as more than just a resume. “It’s more compelling to me to invest in someone and their story, as opposed to just their skill set,” shares Lea Goldman. Granted, the impact of storytelling can alter depending on the boss or industry yet the stories that put our passions, work ethic, values, and drive into perspective can truly make all the difference.

As Maya Angelou reminds us, “everyone has at least one story,” why else would the personal essay component be hammered into almost every application process to count? The key is know, hone, and practice your story – especially before an interview. While you want to remain authentic, a clear, polished response to the standard “tell me about yourself” question can transform into an easy win. Also think of how to incorporate your previous experiences into your story and highlight any relevant experiences that may get overlooked on your resume.     

Ambition Delivered.

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