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7 winning hacks to get exactly what you want from your career

James Clift | September 16, 2014

In order to build an amazing career, it takes hard work, skill, and resilience. However, many people don’t get the simple things right that can have a huge impact on their career trajectory. We’ve compiled 7 easy to master tips that if done right will have a massive impact in helping you reach your potential.

1. Master the first impression

First impressions matter. Much more than you think. Powerful people trust their judgement, and if you’re judged poorly (or not at all) upon first meeting someone your chances of changing that perception are slim. Your first impression goals should be as follows:

  • Be likeable
  • Be memorable
  • Be impressive

Here are 6 easy ways to convey those things:

  • Have a solid handshake
  • Dress well
  • Stand up straight
  • Walk powerfully
  • Make eye contact
  • Be interesting and memorable (but not weird)


These two TED Talks will change the way you think about body language in less than 40 minutes.

#winningtip If you know who you’re meeting at a company, find and study videos of them online. Emulate their energy and style when meeting them to quickly build rapport. It’s science, and it works.

2. Nail your introduction

Don’t have a rehearsed two minute spiel when first meeting someone, but do have an idea of who you are, what you do, and why you’re awesome. Your introdution goes deeper than the initial first impression (which happens in seconds).

The best way to ensure a good introduction is to have done background information on whomever you’re meeting. Any of the following helps:

  • Ideas on how to help their business
  • Introductions you can make for them
  • Common interests and hobbies to talk about
  • Knowledge of their business

You can never do too much research. If you’re meeting someone completely new, you need to quickly find a way to build a connection. The best way is to start by introducing yourself in a compelling way. Experiment with different options:

“I’m a marketing associate at a startup”


“I’m a marketing associate for a software company - we help companies generate more revenue through sales automation technology.“

TEST THIS. See what people find interesting to people and stick with it.

Now stop talking about yourself and get the other person talking.


3. Learn how to ask questions

Repeat after me. “No one cares about me.” People care about themselves. This is a good thing. Learn about what they’re working on. Learn about their careers. Learn about their pains, and how you can solve them.

Your goal when meeting new people (and networking) is to make sure they like you and will be happy to hear from you when you follow up.

Asking the right questions (and remembering the answers) will ensure that you know enough to follow up after meeting someone. It will also make them feel good - people love to talk about themselves.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou


4. Learn basic psychology skills

Convincing someone to do something is an extremely valuable skill. The best way to do this is through practice, and through self-study.

Valuable skills to learn are:

  • Mirroring body language
  • Getting yourself into peak “psychological states” before important meetings or interviews
  • Negotiating tactics
  • Persuasive tactics


5. Take notes

The world’s most successful people are obessive about taking notes. Never trust your memory - create the habit of taking notes on every important event in a work journal. Take notes on the following:

  • People: Take notes before and after meeting someone, and refer to them before the next meeting. This will help you remember important facts, ensure you don’t repeat yourselves in conversation, and impress the other person. If you can bring up past references in your next conversation, it will pay huge dividends in your relationship.
  • Events: Don’t waste your time at an event or a conference - record important lessons and remember the people you meet.
  • Interesting articles: Bookmark interesting articles you read on the web.
  • Books: Don’t just read books, learn from them by taking notes and studying those notes at least once per month.
  • Ideas: Write down every idea you have (no matter how stupid). Your chances of a million dollar idea increase with volume. You need to exercise your idea creation muscle.

Not convinced?

Here’s a list of 20 famous men who kept notebooks.

And Why Richard Branson and I always carry a notepad


6. Stay on the radar

In a world where everyone is a few clicks away, there’s no excuses to lose touch with your connections. Whether it’s replying to a Tweet, or sending a useful article via email - there are dozens of ways to add value to your connections. Don’t wait until you need something to keep your connections going.

The worst time to rekindle a relationship with someone is when you need something from them. Be proactive in building solid relationships. It’s a small time commitment for a huge reward.


7. Learn how to ask for an introduction

The double opt-in introduction is a key part of business today. Leverage your connections, craft an email that adds value, and make the right first impression with your new connections.



While there’s no substitute for hard work, too many people shoot themselves in the foot by not learning these relatively simple techniques for career advancement. Master these and you’ll be amazed at how fast you move up the career ladder.

Blost post author James Clift

About the author

James Clift

James is the CEO of VisualCV. He has spent the last 10 years building businesses, from window cleaning to software. His passion is helping individuals create the careers they want.

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