Before I go deep into this article, I would like to simply explain the term “Value” – Value is when you consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial.

When it comes to being successful and getting ahead in your career, many people share the all too familiar advice: “You have to add value to your network.” But what does adding value really mean? How do you put it into practice every day at work? If you’re a hard worker, your work and years of experience should speak for itself.

First, let’s address a few misconceptions. Many times we define value as something tangible like buying a product or achieving your sales goals. But the value you deliver to your customer or employer is often related to your ability to make someone’s life easier.

Secondly, value is not related to time, especially in business. In fact, in many cases “value” trumps your “years of experience” or “years on the job.” While getting a degree and working hard may get your foot in the door, the right relationships can take you places, your credentials cannot.

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Here are some ways you can increase your value at work:

Choose the attitude you bring to the workplace – Just like the way you wake up every day and decide on the clothes you’re going to wear to work, you have the power to choose your attitude. Your attitude is about the energy or vibe that people feel when they relate and connect with you. People hire, promote, and do business with people they like. And believe it or not, it starts with your presence. So a super simple tip for the workplace — greet people before they greet you. Also, consider the following:

  • Adapt to change – Whether you work in technology, fashion, or healthcare, change is inevitable. So demonstrating an ability to adapt without “complaining or turning into a killjoy on the team” can translate into value for an executive or manager. Train your mind to find the brighter side of things and learn to respond not react. This can position you as a trusted leader who inspires performance in others.
  • Manage your emotions – As you climb the ladder of success, your emotional intelligence (EQ), becomes more important than your IQ. EQ is your ability to manage, and express emotions as well as your capacity to sense how others feel and adjust your response accordingly.

Simplify an overcomplicated process – Train your mind to go from blame to ownership. Ask yourself, can this frustrating and time-consuming work process be simplified or updated so that it reduces stress, time, and costs? Can you streamline the business workflow so that it requires fewer touch points, reduces delays, and improves your customer’s experience? When you decide to create rather than complain, it positions you as a resourceful team player. Even if you don’t have the authority to approve changes, recommend or propose solutions.

Say no with options. Let’s say your boss or manager asks you to volunteer to organize a conference at work, but you’re unavailable. Instead of saying “no, maybe next time,” recommend someone as your replacement and offer to do a virtual introduction. This shows that you’re thoughtful, resourceful, and care about the organization’s success.

Be a confident innovator. When you pitch your ideas to the management, be prepared to defend your views and also to receive criticism. Management will challenge you simply to test your level of enthusiasm for the idea and its viability. There are a lot of variables to consider, and management wants to know you’ve thought about them. If you support your ideas with solid research and show some passion, management will be more likely to embrace your concept.

Learn the difference between e-communication and real communication. Communicating with people is an opportunity not only to pass information but also to build relationships with them. In an age of electronic communication, our conversations are becoming increasingly impersonal. Effective employees must be able to interact with people and solve problems. If you can’t interact with people directly, you have no value.

Say “no” to working while on vacations. When you take your vacation, take your vacation! Don’t offer to check e-mail and voicemail while you are away. Several people have made this mistake and I can tell you if you do it, you might as well have stayed at work. A lot of companies offer rewards and benefits like club trips or weekend getaways. Although these are great and can be a lot of fun, they are not vacations. They are still about the company, and you will still be working. You’ll just be out of the office.

Finally, if you spend your workdays worrying about losing your job, you are probably headed for trouble. Those negative thoughts should be out of your mind and focus on the work you do and how you add value to your company. Demonstrate positivity and a can-do attitude to your team. Work smarter than your competition and you’ll get ahead, every time.

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