Collaborating Your Way to a Successful Career Path

You may have seen other career advice publications like this great Forbes article by Dan Schawbel on his 10 best pieces of career advice for millenials, so let me share my insights on what that would look like at Dell.

This is my story of how I collaborated my way to success…or at least how I’ve gotten on the right career track and my advice on how you can do the same. I recently achieved five years at Dell, which is a long time for a millennial, right? The journey has been challenging but very rewarding. Looking back, I’m so glad I decided to join the Dell team.

In April 2011, Dell Panama and I found each other and it was love at first sight – well – not literally, but it was the opportunity I had been looking for. Four months later, my team hosted a training for all internal communicators from around the world. It was my first time traveling to our headquarters and meeting face-to-face with other communicators in the organization.

This is where the opportunities to collaborate took-off.

Meeting the teams in person helped me build a stronger relationship with them, which translated into working more closely, and getting involved in regional and global initiatives rather than just local ones. Collaboration was the key to develop these connections–which eventually also turned into great friendships.

Take every opportunity to meet in person if possible.

Having that face-to-face introduction to the team (as well as maintaining regular contact) allowed me to collaborate more efficiently moving forward. Especially in a global company, face-to-face allows you to better understand colleagues from all over the world who represent different languages, cultures and work styles. If you can’t meet in-person, take advantage of video conference opportunities. In our digital, work-from-home environments, we need to remind ourselves of the value of old-school communication: face-to-face. (Did a millennial just vouch for old-school?)

Look for “extra-curricular” activities for networking to show off your skills in a positive way.

Getting involved with employee resource groups like GenNext and the Dell Champions also helped expand my network while building my personal brand. At Dell, we own our careers. Dell gives us the resources and training programs, but ultimately it is up to us to direct it where we want it to go.

Fortunately, collaborating comes by nature to me. I’m usually that person who raises their hand to say: I’ll do it. So far, my managers have continued to support my ideas, allowing me to take on development opportunities. How about you, do you raise your hand? If not, what are you waiting for?

Search for areas you can support with your skills and others will appreciate your extra hands.

In 2014, I was determined to attend Dell World. By looking for opportunities to use my skills, I found out the corporate team needed support in internal social media. By expressing my interest and having a solid track record and great connections, I ended up leading that workstream, attending Dell World and having a blast, while expanding my skills! The week involved a lot of hard work, but there was a balance of fun, too, like rocking out to Weezer and Duran Duran and getting a hands-on experience with the latest Dell products and solutions.

Since that “love at first sight” moment five years ago, I’ve successfully led corporate internal and external communications for Dell Panama, managed the Dell Champions program in Panama, and last year relocated from Panama to Dell’s Round Rock, Texas, headquarters for a global role, expanding my network even more.

My success has been about more than just the right skills. It has been due to effectively collaborating with others, having great relationships at work, and the right attitude.

When I’m asked about why I’ve gotten the most out of my career at Dell, I share the following advice:

  1. Collaborate with others: Volunteer to take on additional projects or new tasks; you never know what you might learn or get in return from it.
  2. Take time to build existing relationships and make new connections: Be genuine. Get to know your colleagues; you might even become good friends.
  3. Have a positive attitude: Build your personal brand. Work on becoming a trustworthy advisor and someone pleasurable to work with. Having the right attitude can get you far at work and in life.

Your turn! How far has collaborating taken you? What has helped you in your path to success?

About the Author: Michael Belanger