Things you must aim for

You’ll keep learning and getting good at some things throughout your professional life but here are things that you should aim for

Know the details of what you do

The product you sell or service you offer is something you should aim to have details of very early in your chosen path. So that when you meet people or post online and are asked questions you have the answers at the ready. Lead conversations in a direction that will lay out your service or product. Your prices, the times you operate and where you can be found. People appreciate being given as much information as possible in a quick and clear manner so that they can make a decision.

When you are requested to attend a meeting or when you ask for a meeting, always be on time and have all relevant details ready for a sale. Take your starting and ending times seriously and make sure everyone is clear on next steps before you wrap up.

Also don’t be afraid to elaborate about what the future holds for your product or service and what outcomes you’re aiming for. Not everyone is out to sabotage; some people appreciate knowing what is in the pipeline so that they can budget for it.

Know your worth

People sometimes shy away from speaking about money and worry that they have to lay out an air-tight case when asking for the amounts they are asking. This does not have to be the case and you do not have to give a long speech with evidence about your worth.

Money matters can be made simpler if you go prepared and preparing can include asking other people in your field for their opinion, checking with professional organizations in your industry, looking at similar products and services (bear in mind the quality) and looking up the prices or you can contact recruiters in these fields that you follow.

I talking about money it is better to not say what you were hoping for, say what you would like to get and that you are open to negotiation. Or that you can be flexible with on the down payment and the final payment. While negotiating always make sure that you’re factor in your geographic area, which can have a big impact on the final numbers.

Know how to deal with difficult people

There are all sorts out there and sometimes people will do something that you will not like or need to push back on. Like expect you to produce or deliver in an unreasonable amount of time. Or delay payment after delivery and become abusive. In these cases, it’s key to know how to professionally advocate for yourself. Usually that means being assertive but not aggressive, calmly explaining the issue and being direct about what you would like to happen.

One day out several in the month you’re going to have tough conversations with people. So your life will be much better if you know how to deal with these situations. Being straightforward is the best way to go but that doesn’t mean being rude, of course. You can be direct and polite at the same time, but you do need to be assertive.

Sometimes you will have to deal with people much more senior and richer than you and it’s pretty common to be intimidated by these higher-ups when you’re just starting out but, if you let yourself stay intimidated, it will keep you from growing and will gain you visibility for the wrong reasons.

Don’t be shy about putting your foot down and getting your point across and don’t be afraid to chat with higher-ups or sharing your ideas when appropriate.

Always be polite and professional when dealing with ALL your clients.

Know what to do when you make a mistake

As you are human at some point, you’re going to make a mistake and when you do, how you handle it will often matter more than the mistake itself. The key is, to take responsibility for what happened immediately. Don’t make excuses be defensive or blame someone or something else.

If you’ve been doing what you do for some years now, you will have a fair idea about what you’re better at than others, what you’re much better at than others, what you want to work on improving in and what you should probably avoid altogether.

Your reputation matters and your reputation for doing great work and being easy to work with is what will give you more and more options over time.


A Zambian site sharing quick read articles around work, money and adulting life with selective interviews and quotes.
The founder, editor and lead writer who left university with a good grasp of public administration, economics, money, banking and international relations is also qualified in journalism and creative writing. She has been published in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and has been featured in several local and international publications.
An avid bird watcher with an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( a Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list ) she often tweets in poetry and short prose @kwachalelo