Webster’s dictionary defines opportunity as “a favourable juncture of circumstances and a good chance for advancement or progress.” There are steps you can take to maximize your abilities, taking your value to the project team and career to the next level.

Best-selling author Shakti Gawain advises, “Create opportunities by asking for them”. These tips will show you how to envision new opportunities, ask for them and be ready to take them on!

1. Assess yourself

When it comes to opening doors to new opportunities, self-knowledge is a powerful tool. Identifying your strengths (and being aware of your weaknesses) will help you recognize areas where you can excel and will prepare you to articulate those strengths when the time comes. Start by focusing on what you already know, such as: what comes easily to you, what you care about or are passionate about, and what part of the workday excites you. Write it all down.

A clear-eyed assessment will help you focus on growing your abilities and strategize about improving the things you need to work on. If you have passions or skills underutilized in your current position, find a way to use them—don’t lose them. Demonstrating such skills will broaden your exposure, help you stand out and make the workday more enjoyable.

2. Stay Flexible

Opportunity is everywhere. The more open you are to what life offers you, the more likely you are to recognize it. Streamlined workplaces, shifts in technology and a more agile, global workforce make flexibility critical. Be open to changing priorities, learn to compromise and look at change as a positive. Meeting cancelled? Use the time to catch up on email. Transferred to a different project? Look forward to networking with new colleagues and the potential to learn new skills. The more open you are to changing circumstances, project schedules and teams, the more opportunities you create for yourself. Plus, you’ll develop a reputation as a great team player, and people will want to work with you.

3. Using networks

Establishing and maintaining a wide professional network may prove to be the opening to your next opportunity. We all have networks, even if we do not consciously cultivate them. Your network may include your friends, families, work colleagues, etc. It is important to take opportunities to develop networks you never know when a contact may be valuable or when you might be able to help someone else. Go to seminars, meetings, and conferences, join groups such as professional bodies, staff associations and networks, and unions.

Explore ways of using online social networks. Concentrate on areas where you need to increase your contacts. Don’t confine your networking to the workplace, especially if you are keen to explore other career avenues. Ensure that you keep contact details up to date and try to keep in touch by email or phone.

4. Learn. Learn. Learn 

Learning new skills (and strengthening those you already have) is critical to professional development. Improved skills make you a stronger team member, increase self-confidence and make you more adaptable to change. Use that strengths and weaknesses list of yours to strategize what you want to learn and why.

5. Keep trying

Thomas Edison said, “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Perseverance is critical to recognizing and seizing opportunity. Determination and a positive attitude will keep you in the game. Making the decision to find and achieve new work opportunities is only half the battle. Practice being the most collaborative team member you can be, remain excited about your goals and practice reaching them systematically. Hard work, diligence and a positive outlook will pay handsome dividends when the right opportunity knocks. KEEP TRYING!

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