Women earn on average 84% of what men earn, and only 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. It’s not only large company leadership that’s dominated by men; in the startup world, only 2% of VC dollars are going to women-led companies. So, how can women more strategically them land themselves at a corner office–or at least the next promotion? Sunaina Sinha Haldea, Global Head of Private Capital Advisory at Raymond James, shares five simple ways women can set their careers up for success.

Always Make The Ask

“Many women I know hesitate to ask for things for themselves,” she said. “Somehow women are trained to believe that if they ask for something that they will be perceived as needy or demanding. That’s simply not true. Always make the ask–be it of an employer, a partner, a business associate or a friend. The worst answer you can receive is ‘no,’ but then you’re no worse off than when you started.” She added that even no’s can have their benefits. “If you learn why the response was a no, you can start working towards turning it into a ‘yes.’”

Demonstrate Leadership

Haldea has seen too many women wait for promotions to demonstrate leadership, not realizing that the path to success involves showcasing leadership skills at every point in one’s career. “There are always opportunities to demonstrate leadership. If you’re an analyst just out of college, join a committee or start a corporate initiative. If you are a mid-level employee, volunteer for management roles or for leadership over projects. If you’re in a senior position, lean in to every leadership opportunity. If few are presented to you, create them.” The best way to show a management team what you’re capable of is to demonstrate it. Too many people mistakenly believe that leadership is to be demonstrated once you reach the top, but successful leaders know that leadership must be demonstrated in order to reach the top also emphasized.

Master Body Language

Only 7% of all communications is verbal. Non-verbal communications are rarely taught, yet they’re key to being taken seriously, and they make a huge impact on a person’s professional success. The subtle signals that our posture, eye contact, and body language send to another party can make the difference between not only a yes or a no but also between the willingness of a person to learn more or to want to spend more time with you. Fortunately, there are many ways to learn how to master your body language, ranging from YouTube videos to personal coaches. Some employers even offer coaching to employees who request it. “Come to the table exhibiting your full power and splendor,” said Haldea. “Don’t cower. You’ll be amazed as you watch the subtle turning of respect and differences towards you.”

Pay it Forward–Acts of Kindness Often Offer Dividends

Haldea advises women to find ways, whenever possible, to give back to the world around us. “Find a junior employee or a fellow woman in your business to champion. Make a difference to the carbon footprint of your business. Do something kind in big or small ways, but don’t sing about it from the rooftops, and certainly don’t ask for anything in return. Do it because it is the right thing to do and a good way to live.” People always remember the colleagues, champions and mentors who helped them throughout their careers. Sunaina cautions not to ask for or expect anything in return. She believes that good deeds ultimately get rewarded. “Karma Rebounds in Magnificent Ways,” she added.

Play The Long Game

“So many young professionals come to me these days in a do-or-die hurry to get somewhere,” said Sunaina. “They think they need to directly benefit from relationships, see positive outcomes from every networking event, and see career progression consistently moving up and to the right. But real careers are rarely linear, and neither is success.” Haldea advises to keep your eye on the big prize — the long prize, not the short ones “Don’t be transactional with people; instead, build long-term, authentic relationships. Playing the long game has served me well in both my business and my personal life. Any other approach short changes you and the possibilities of what could have been.”

Source: Yola Robert

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