"Work Smart - Business Woman"By Dicky Sykes

Graduate school gives you the opportunity to solve complex problems and challenging case studies. In fact, I learned how to mitigate the cultural dilemmas multinationals face when sending employees abroad; how to develop and manage virtual project teams; how different personality types lead and why followers follow.

Without a doubt, graduate school broadened my understanding of the complexity of leadership and gave me more tools for my career box. What it didn’t do is teach me how to elevate my brand identity or how to develop and maintain key business relationships. I can tell you with specificity that it is not about how smart you are but rather how smart you work that gets you ahead.

In today’s work environment, both the experienced and novice alike are uncertain about the future of employment. Leave anxiety and fear behind in 2012 and become the architect of your future by developing behaviors that set you apart from your colleagues. What I am about to tell you may sound counterintuitive to what your Ego wants to hear, which is give as little as possible to get as much as possible. That will lead you down the path of thinking you are entitled to money and titles you haven’t earned, working too little and expecting too much and using people as disposable commodities for your own selfish pursuits.

If you are a corporate gal or guy, determine fairly quickly actions that generate outcomes that are tied to your employer’s goals and objectives and do more than what is expected. Let me say that again, do more than expected and work hard. Work as many hours, days, months and years as it takes to become known as an expert in your field and while doing so learn how to align your productivity with expanding your company’s positive brand image.

This means understanding how what you do aligns with your company’s mission, purpose and objective. Every department within a successful organization promotes a strong, unified message that is rooted within their particular brand identity. Problems occur when messages are mixed or off point. Within the parameters of what you do, strive to cultivate, maintain and expand their brand because this promotes their good business practices and increases business.

As an example, I ensure supplier diversity inclusion practices align with community or public relations’ activities. These practices become integrated with marketing. This results in positive corporate communication messages which expands and promotes the company’s positive brand identity. Every company strives to improve and maintain a positive brand image.

Work as hard as you can to meet your company’s deliverables because that is why they hired you. While working their business plan, make sure you are working your personal strategic plan of action. Whey they win, you become known as the resident expert. You see, by doing and giving more, your brand identity is automatically elevated and expanded.

It is critical to develop key relationships with customers, coworkers and colleagues that are based on genuine respect and likability. The higher you move up within any organization or profession, the more critical relationship building becomes. People do business with people they like and connect with and hire and promote those they like and connect with on some level. Early in your career and throughout, develop and maintain key relationships that are based on your personal hard work ethic, honesty, authenticity and respect. Ensure your relationships are mutually beneficial. Don’t just reach out to someone when you want something, share career knowledge, contacts and help out with your particular brand of genius when time permits.

Until next time, here’s wishing you a fantastic 2013.