How to Get Grabby in Your Career

As a boss lady, it's no surprise that getting ahead in your career is at the top of your ever-expanding to-do list. With more women in the workforce and high-achieving muses like Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama inspiring us on the daily, every possible edge is necessary when it comes to becoming the you of your dreams. Focus, dedication, and a little bit of luck are definitely part of the success cocktail for both men and women, but there's another ingredient that's worth considering.

You've got to get a little grabby.

Before calling HR, though, let me explain what I mean by getting grabby — it's actually more tame than the phrase indicates.

Getting grabby means going for it, even if something seems outside of your daily routine or pay grade. Grabby gals have no fear and a ton of confidence in their own abilities. Perhaps there's an exciting project that's not necessarily in your direct line of vision but you know it will give you killer exposure, and, most importantly, you think you can help make the project great. Why wouldn't you inquire about helping? The worst response you could get would be "no," and even then you've left others with the impression that you care about their project.

Below are two more ways you can get grabbier in your own career.

Turn Tasks Into Triumphs

It's true that not every project you're handed will lead to a big break, but why not make each moment count? It doesn't matter how new you are to your career — chances are your supervisor or maybe even her supervisor will ask you to do something outside the norm. This task may be as simple as researching a competitor or providing a list of possible vendors for an upcoming event. Don't view these mini projects as items to check off; view them as stepping stones toward where you want to be. For example, if you're asked to research the above examples, doing your job well would be completing the tasks assigned to you in a timely, accurate manner. Getting grabby with the task would mean doing your research and then applying it to your current industry landscape, or perhaps rather than just providing a list of vendors, you instead list them out based on merit or their customer reviews. Whatever your co-workers throw at you, find a way to add a little oomph to it — trust me, people will notice.

Follow the Eff Up

Following up is another crucial way to get grabby. And no, before you ask, following up doesn't have to be annoying or needy. On the contrary, following up shows you're interested and invested in the work. It also shows you know how to prioritize. In the example from above, once you knock it out of the park by transforming your task into a mini triumph, wait a beat, then check in to see if there is anything else you can do to assist your manager. This check in can be face to face or via email; just make sure it's casual. If there is clearly nothing else you can contribute, make a note to yourself and then follow up later that month by inquiring about the project. Perhaps ask your supervisor which vendor she ended up choosing and why. This will remind her:

  1. you did a good job,
  2. you care about the project, and
  3. you're already invested, so requesting a bit more from you is NBD.

After following up, be patient! Not every task will turn into a promotion, but keep in mind that any supervisor worth his or her salt promotes employees who are engaged with their daily projects.

It's true, some jobs are siloed or more regimented than others, but I bet if you were to take stock of your daily tasks that you could identify a few places where getting grabbier would benefit you and your team.