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Three Ideas to Set You Apart

March 29, 2011




As I near the end of graduate school, I’ve thought about the things I’ve learned outside the classroom that have helped me the most. Beyond books and research papers, I’ve narrowed down three simple things that have helped me professionally, which I encourage you to try also.

  • Handwritten thank you letters. As more things are going digital, the idea of writing and actually mailing a letter seems foreign. It’s quicker to text, email or even tweet your thanks. However, that is precisely what makes a handwritten thank you note stand out from the crowd. As this Fast Company article points out, it communicates the writer put in the extra time, shows the writer cares and thinks the receiver is important. How’s that for making an impression?
  • Asking for advice. Successful people typically want to help others who are truly interested in learning, but we may think they’re too busy. I wrote a paper on personal branding for class and thought Dan Schawbel, personal branding guru, would be an excellent source. I emailed him some questions, expecting he’d be too busy to answer. He sent a personal response that same night. It never hurts to ask for advice.
  • Volunteering. It’s no secret you receive more than you give when you volunteer. In addition to the warm, rewarding feeling you get from helping out a cause, it’s a great way to network. If you’ve got a skill you’d like to develop, volunteering is a great way to gain experience. Many nonprofits seek help with job-related activities, such as writing, marketing and campaigning, which will help you strengthen your skills while giving back to your community. 

What other ways have you found to help you stand out?

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