If you think just being good at your job will get you promoted, think again. These days, you need leadership skills, internal and external visibility and a strong professional network if you want to move up the corporate ladder. When many people have the same technical backgrounds, these qualities are how managers decide who gets the promotion. If you think about it, anyone can learn new skills by attending classes, searching for tutorials online or asking a friend for help. Technology has forced people to compete on soft skills, because hard ones are more easily obtainable. Here are three items you should focus on if you want that promotion you dream about:

1. Leadership skills

Do you have to be born a leader? I don’t believe you do. The more you put yourself in positions where you can lead, the more you’ll realize your true leadership potential. For instance, when I was in college, I volunteered to be the leader in a small marketing group, which forced me to manage, influence, and support my teammates. At work, take the lead on a project so you’re seen as a more valuable employee.

2. Visibility

If you aren’t visible, then no one will know about you, and when management is ready to promote someone, your name won’t be considered. Attach your name to big corporate initiatives, let management know when you’ve successfully completed a project, and have them promote your results to the execs.

3. Professional networking

Don’t stay stagnant in your core work group. Instead, tell your manager to introduce you to people in other functional areas. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about the business and make connections. You don’t want to just network inside your company, either — the more people you know in your industry, the more opportunities you’ll have.

—Dan Schawbel is the author of “Me 2.0” and is considered a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times. Follow him on Twitter @DanSchawbel.


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