Last week, Society of Saleswomen hosted our first-ever signature event, The Kick Off Event at WorkBar LA in Culver City. Saleswomen from all industries gathered to meet, eat, and hear advice and guidance from Katti Fields, VP Dealer Operations with Edmunds.com in a fireside-chat format.
Here are some of the highlights from Katti:
On moving up/and through an organization:
Katti has a simple methodology for career mobility:
"Exposure, Education, and Experience."
Relationships are key. Katti aligned with several key figures in the company who later became a part of the executive team. Because she had worked with these folks previously, she was able to establish a level of dependability and a reputation for problem solving. She was someone these executives wanted to bring along in their own career trajectories, and therefore, these relationship became valuable to her own career progression.
Control the narrative. Be very clear. Let people know what you are interested in doing- whether it is a new project or role. Be super clear about your goal, constantly discuss your goal, and what steps you (or your team) is taking to achieve that goal. Be clear about where you want to be and clearly tell that story. People will come up with their own story if you don't give them a story to talk about. Make sure you are on the radar and always a part of the conversation.
Connect your ROI to the work. People fail to recognize the connection between the work they do and the ROI of that work. How much are your contributions valued? When you think of the job you're doing, the company is investing in you, and expecting some sort of ROI. Try to think about the actual financial tangible impact to the company based on your performance or project. "I did these things (or the team did these things), and the impact is X, or the savings to the company was Y."
You can always ask. You can always ask for the next role, the next raise, the next anything you want. If there are gaps, you can learn about those here. It never hurts to ask.
Have the basics down pat. Katti figured out early on in her career that certain general business skills are important to career progress. Managing projects, writing decent summaries, giving and making presentations, being able to put together thoughts in a visual format, and being able to tell a story are all necessary and foundational skills. Get really good at these.
Look for people who are already demonstrating at that level. Look out for people who are excelling at these general business skills. Who is getting tapped in regularly and why? What skills are they good at? See what they are doing, how they achieved their qualifications or skills, and go do those yourself.
Have a broad perspective of available opportunities within your organization. Many people view opportunities in an organization as linear or in a ladder prescription. Consider viewing it as a rock wall, where there could be many options in front of you. If you want something at the next level, and that next level doesn't exist, you will have to figure out how to create an opportunity that demonstrates the need for that role, or demonstrates that you have the ability to perform in that role.
Operate at that level before becoming that level. Once you find that role, project, or person that personifies your next move, start operating as if you were already in those roles. It's easier to hire someone who has already done the job!
Always Evaluate your three E's when you are looking to make a move. Do you have the education needed for the role? If not, what can you do to improve or change it? Perhaps you have the education and the experience, but not the exposure. Who can help in that area? Are you being clear? Presenting your ROI? Be on the radar for all of these.
On balance/harmony in life and work:
Katti has swiftly moved up through Edmunds.com while maintaining a long commute and parenting two young children. Her main piece of advice:
Prioritize. Katti says she tends to compartmentalize things, and views the whole picture like an air traffic controller. She tries to schedule both the personal and the professional and prioritizes. It's okay if those priorities change over time, but you need to be vocal and set boundaries around them. Hold yourself accountable to not have them bleed over into one another.
One thing that everyone should take away above all else:
"Figure out your secret sauce."
What is that thing that makes you you? Katti's Secret Sauce is to bring order to chaos. This is something she can apply anywhere, and it's what she brings to the table. She goes into scenarios knowing THIS IS HER THING. Think about your own thing, what is it? If you have trouble, consider experiences where you felt really good, really confident. "That was amazing, I did that." What did you do there? What was your contribution? What was that formula... then OWN IT. Be that person who does that thing all the time and is really good at it. Don't be the person that tries to compete in other areas that don't matter, it is a waste of time and energy. Align everything to your secret sauce and excel a that.
If you still don't know your secret sauce, ask your Square Squad (Brene Brown), the people who know you really well AND care about you. Who are those people? Let them help you figure out what you're really good at.
Figure out what it is. Own it. And apply that for impact.
When you have your secret sauce, you can create your reputation. Get paid what you're worth. There's no need to apologize anymore, and you can speak up with confidence. . . because it's your secret sauce.
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