10 Ways Women Can Shine at Work


June 10, 2014 • Branding, How To, Life Tips

10 Ways YOU Can Shine in the Workplace and be the BOSS that you are.

Oprah Winfrey once said:
“I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life.”

How many of you can relate to this quote? Excellence requires small plans of action for improvement to become better at something. Since I’ve entered the workforce after graduating from Princeton in June 2013, I’ve learned alot being a young woman in working America. Whether it is managing multiple projects, interfacing with demanding clients, navigating office relationships, working with the media, juggling personal-life demands, or some other work-related struggle, sometimes you may even find yourself complaining, “What is wrong with me?” One thing I’ve realized is things will get better and sometimes change starts with YOU.

Countless women (and men) worldwide experience on-the-job difficulties that sometimes or even take all the joy out of a job they once loved or, even worse, affect their ability to perform at the highest level. There are certain aspects of the career world that don’t necessarily work in the favor of women.

Between discrepancies in pay (with a recent study showing that women are paid 77 percent of what men are paid and that this discrepancy is even worse for women of color), workplace gender discrimination can be very real.

In order to be excellent in our work, we must be proactive in taking the initiative to seek out ways and methods for self-improvement. The woman who seeks excellence by refinement, and who is not held back by systematic challenge, discriminations, or self- doubt is a force to be reckoned with!

Here are 10 ways YOU can SHINE at work.

1.Practice Being Confident.  Make Sure You are Visible. Do not wait for others to showcase your successes. Connie Glaser, an expert on gender communication notes, “The right people need to know about your accomplishments if you want get ahead. Volunteer to make a presentation, write a press release about recent accomplishments [and] let people know about your successes.” When people know that you believe in yourself and you are assertiveness, they’ll be much more confident in the words coming out your ability to get things done. Here’s a great resource on how you can promote yourself without “over-promoting yourself.”

2. Learn how to Negotiate Your Worth.  Many studies show that women are not as aggressive as men when it comes to negotiating salaries, raises, or bonuses. Likewise, female freelancers or consultants often under price their work. Make it your aim to be smarter when it comes to negotiating your value. Once you do your research and can prove how you improve your client or organization’s bottom line, ask for what you know you are worth and don’t be afraid or timid about doing it.  This is especially crucial for younger women in the field like myself who don’t have a lot of direct experience under our belt yet. No matter what, you are valuable and should not devalue yourself just for the sake of “getting work.” Even if you do decide to work for free, make sure you are getting something of value in return. Click here for salary negotiating tips from Women for Hire.

3. Embrace Relationships with other Women. I hate to this, but I’ve seen dynamics where others (especially men) shine because of the lack of female solidarity in the workplace. Nobody wants to work with women who are difficult to work with and refuse to get along with one another. Embrace cultivating genuine solid relationships with the women around you. Women that you befriend on the job can end up being your greatest advocates. One of the women who I befriended early on in my career while interning at CBS is Gabrielle Simpson, current Director of Diversity Communications at NBC and fellow NYBPRS member. Gabrielle is now one of my most cherished mentors and allies. Her friendship, mentorship, and sponsorship have been so pivotal to my career development. There is so much she has taught me about being a female Communications professional navigating the media world.

4. Learn How to Say No. There may be times at work when you know you are taking on too much but don’t know what to do about it. You can’t be superwoman all the times. Click here to learn some  ways to say “no” without hurting your image or burning bridges with people that you think are important. One thing I’ve realized that taking on extra assignments for the sake of being seen as a “giver” can actually come back to bite you in the rear-end. When you spread yourself too thin, you aren’t always able to devote the amount of time to a project that it deserves. Quality beats quantity. If you are a solopreneur like me, instead of trying to take on more new clients, why not focus on delivering quality to your current clients, making you an indispensable resource?

5. Stop taking things Personally. Develop tough(er) Skin. As women, we can sometimes let our feelings get in the way of us making rational decisions. Sometimes carrying this into the workplace can be to our detriment. If someone criticizes your work, it’s not always because they don’t like you personally. I’ve found that taking a personality test has helped me understand my own strengths and weaknesses and how I can use these to be better in the workplace. (Read about my experience here.) At the same time, you shouldn’t be too impersonal. Genuinely care about the people you work for and work with but know when to draw the line.  I’ve found that taking time to meditate during the day has helped me when I feel stress levels and tensions rising. Don’t allow the people you work with to take you out of character. People will remember the lady who snapped. Don’t be that lady.

6. Network More. Meeting new people and making connections is one of the best ways to advance professionally. Take the time to really get to know the people you work with and those in other departments.  Here are 5 tips for being a better networker. One of my favorite ways to network is to go professional or industry events. One of my first freelancing gigs came from a contact I made while attending a NYBPRS game night in May 2013. Establishing relationships with others helps build your network. As the saying goes, your network determines your net worth.

7. Find a Mentor or Coach.  You don’t to navigate your way through the workplace by yourself. Having someone you can confide in about your work challenges and who is supportive of your growth can define your career trajectory.  Your mentor can be someone who works for you and advocates for you internally. Or, like me, you can seek a mentor who has a job you would like to have one day. No matter what your mentor should be someone who pushes you to be better and is a cheerleader for your success to you and others.

8. Don’t be Scared to Hangout with the Guys.  Mingling with large group of men in the office-space can be a bit intimidating. There might be areas of your job or industries that seem to be dominated by men. Don’t let this scare you. Penetrating spaces where men have “dominated” can actually be strategic and helpful to one’s career and future opportunities. For instance, if you love computer programming and know you would be a great PR professional for a high-tech firm, but know that the company you want to work for is male-dominated, STILL PURSUE THE JOB!  Though your skill-set and experience will be important, the value and womanly wisdom you can add to an organization could be even more valuable. If your passion lies in a space that has not historically been welcoming to woman, use that as motivation to succeed instead of a hindering force.  

9. Keep your Work/Life Balance. As women we may feel that we have to prove ourselves by staying late, working weekends, or taking on projects and tasks that cut into our personal time. One of the most important things to successfully managing one’s career is maintaining a work/life balance. Make sure that you are making time for the important people in your life such as your family, significant other, or children.  Jobs are temporary, but the relationships we have in our life live on much longer. Ways that we can keep our work/life in balance are to be strict to leaving at a certain time each day. Or, you might designate a few days a week that you don’t take post-work meetings.  Make sure you have passions outside of work. Don’t be afraid to let the people around you know about your passions. I love telling my co-workers about Brukwine, a reggae dance fitness class I take. This makes you more personable to those with whom you work.

10. ?????? What do you think should be the 10th way that women can improve in the workplace. Let us know by leaving a note in the COMMENTS section below.

Here are some other great articles on women in the workplace:
10 Tips for How Women Get Noticed in the Workplace
In The Workplace, What Can Women Learn From Men?
7 Career Lessons From HSN’s Mindy Grossman rana-campbell-sign-up Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Linkedin.

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Rana Campbell is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Ranacampbell.com, a site dedicated to personal branding and helping people learn how to SHINE in their personal and professional lives.