Want to add a significant amount of value at work? Want to increase your job security? Want to keep up with the new guy at work that builds spreadsheets without a mouse? This series is for you!

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Whether you’re fresh out of school or you’re a 20 year office veteran, you can learn something new and improve your standing in your career every single day. One of my all time favorite math equations is below. Getting 1% better every day would bring about more than 37x growth in a year ( gotta love compounding). If you carve just a few minutes out of your day to focus on improving yourself, you’ll be very hard to replace and that is the best kind of job security in my opinion. This first article will cover networking, which I believe to be both one of the most important and easiest to quickly improve areas one can focus on professionally.

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No matter what field you work in, you have a network. Additionally, every single person you come into contact with is a connection. You never know who might have a family member that is 2-3 levels above your head, or who might be consulted by your boss when it comes time for your performance review. Be kind to everyone, remember the small things, and keep a light heart to level up at work.

Be kind to everyone at work, even the people you don’t like. Connections are everything in your career, both personally and professionally. The fastest way to move up the ladder, whatever the field, is knowing the right people. Being skilled is obviously important, but the right person taking note of how skilled you are is an absolute catalyst for growth. Taking this a step further, the right people have to like you if you want to do this the easy way.

Quick side note, if you are extremely skilled or intelligent this might not be the place for you. I would not consider myself as either, I am simply writing this from my own experience / lens on life which is that of someone who did not get recruited directly out of school thanks to a mediocre GPA and had 0 connections in the location in which I got my first full time gig.

There are countless ways to make people like you, both good and bad, but here are a handful of methods I am a fan of in the workplace:

  • Remember people’s names

  • Stay calm in every situation

  • Have real, non-work conversations here and there

  • Remember the small things

  • Do favors for people

  • Leave your ego at the door

I am not necessarily advocating a** kissing, but if it works here and there, it doesn’t hurt. Being on people’s good side (again, even if don’t like them) will always come in handy.

Remember the small things. This point should extend beyond just someone’s name – anything you can ask about that shows you pay attention and care will increase the odds that you are liked. Once you have developed contacts/connections, particularly on other teams in the workplace, remembering to ask how their kid is doing or bringing up how their favorite football team played over the weekend will dramatically enhance the connection and lead the way to a conversation.

The single most important thing to remember on this point is this: people love to talk about themselves. Simply allowing the other person to talk about themselves will increase the amount that they like talking to you, and ultimately lead to their favorable opinion of you.

Lastly, it is absolutely crucial that you keep a light heart in the workplace. Things will go wrong, there will be hard days, and your colleagues will have bad days that indirectly impact you. Establish yourself as the person who is calm in a crises, keeps a level head, and never takes life too seriously. This will come in handy when others have fires come up and need help (becoming the go to person when problems come up is an incredibly quick way to move yourself towards the front of the promotion line). The balance obviously needs to be struck as you should take (or at least appear to take) things seriously. Never, however, let things overwhelm you to the point that you are hard to be around. Take things in stride, it’ll all work out!

These are just a small set of the things that I believe you can use to build a network that likes you. A strong network that thinks highly of you will carry you extremely far!

Want to sharpen your small talk skills? Check out this article!

Spreadsheet Tip

As a Spreadsheet Enthusiast, I’d like to include spreadsheet tips here and there that have leveled up my spreadsheet skills in the workplace.

Vlookups

If you are spending considerable amounts of time managing data in spreadsheets, this formula will likely change your life at work. Let’s say you were trying to gather all of the costs on a set of items that your company sells. You have one sheet listing all of the items, identifiable by the item number. Let’s say you export, from a database, a spreadsheet that contains every single item your company sells and each item’s cost.

I can’t tell you how many people I have met that would, one line at a time, move through and individually identify each item’s cost by hand, switching from sheet to sheet over and over again. This might work when you only have 2-3 items to deal with. If, however, you need to compile the costs for a few hundred items, that would take hours! This formula can complete this task (or any like it) in a matter of seconds.

How does it work?

The formula reads as:

=vlookup(lookup value, range to be searched, index, exact or relative match)

Breaking each criteria down:

Lookup Value

This is the value we are looking to match up. In the example above, this would be the item number who’s cost we need to find. This value can be hard or soft coded. What that means is that you could physically type in each item number (hard coding, how inefficient!) or you can set it equal to a cell’s value. if the item # is in cell A1 and the cost is supposed to go in cell B1, simply set the lookup value to A1! This is best because when you copy the formula down, it will automatically update and pull costs for the corresponding item.

Range to be Searched

Vlookups can only look from left to right, in this example we would highlight the portion of the database export that contains just item numbers and costs. It is important to ensure this portion of the formula uses dollar signs around the rows & columns (ex. $A$1:$B$1000). This prevents the range from changing as you drag the formula down your sheet.

Index

This value is numeric, simply count the columns in the search range and identify which one holds the data you need. If we only have 2 columns in our range, the first containing item numbers and the second containing costs, we can put a 2 here.

Match Value

This is simply asking whether the criteria ware looking for should be an exact match or a relative match. I have never, in my entire professional career, used the exact match feature as it always causes issues. I use a 0 for this value 100% of the time.

If you would like a video explanation, check out @retirement_calc_guy on Instagram!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you have any suggestions, things you would like to see, or questions please do not hesitate to shoot me an email @ retirementcalcguy@gmail.com.

My contact information can also be found here!

– RCG