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4 tips to build your career with collaboration

Collaboration can be the determining factor in your career success — here's how to do it right

Your instinct may be to work independently to prove yourself so you can achieve greater heights in your career. In reality, collaboration can open new doors, expand your knowledge and prepare you for your next position. In other words, collaborate more to build your career. What does collaboration in a professional setting mean? Furthermore, how is it done effectively?

1. Offer your support

A senior manager leading a big project may appreciate the extra help. The tasks may be menial, but being a part of the effort could be valuable. It is a chance to gain exposure to new facets of the organization, build new relationships and expand your horizons. Go through the proper channels to ask to participate, including discussing the idea with your direct manager. If you are declined, ask for consideration for the next project and how you can best prepare for it.

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2. Volunteer for team efforts

In your work life and beyond, there are opportunities to volunteer to be a part of a team. It could be a corporate committee to implement a new safety program. Or perhaps there is an unpopular project and the manager is seeking staff to volunteer. Outside of work, there are likely opportunities to be on committees for charity and civic events. All of these are career-building situations.

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3. Don’t overstep

Remember, not everyone welcomes unsolicited support. Some people are insecure and can be threatened by rising stars. This should not deter you from participating in groups. The secret is to be careful not to overstep boundaries or take over someone’s pet project. Listen more than you speak, and be willing to take the less glamorous assignments.

4. Know how to share credit

Never steal someone else’s thunder. On the other hand, don’t sell yourself short. If you are recognized for your role in a project or for an idea of yours, accept the compliment. You are not expected to allow someone else to take total credit for your work. But in addition to accepting the recognition, do thank the project lead for the opportunity.

The bottom line

Collaboration in most aspects of life leads to growth. There is always more to learn, and working with experienced colleagues is an excellent way to do just that. Offering support in these situations requires finesse. Tread lightly, work diligently, and express your gratitude. Lastly, remember that when you attain a senior role, always give your junior team members a chance to develop under your wing.

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