Rachel Layton was introduced to Style Home Page readers back in 2016 when we featured her great style.

As Marketing Director  of A. Marshall Family Foods, the company behind the Puckett’s brands, Scout’s Pub and Homestead Manor, she also authors a young professionals lifestyle and business blog at lifeandotherthingsme.com. Layton is an active member of the Williamson Inc. YP Board, the Safe Haven Family Shelter Board Intern, the Second Harvest Food Bank Advisory Council, and the High Hopes Development Center Advisory Board. She graduated with an MBA from Belmont University (while working full-time) and manages to be all around amazing while navigating the world of a young professional in Nashville.
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So is it any wonder we asked (okay begged) Layton to share insight and problem solving for young professionals? We think not.

Today, she shares ten things every young professional needs to crush it in 2017.

By Rachel Layton
Have you ever noticed the girl in the office who always looks really well put together and just seems to be all-around fashion awesome? I have a few friends like that, and I assure you I am NOT anything like it. Due to that fact, I’ve mastered a couple of life-hacks that have helped me in my young professional journey. I’m counting them down for you today!

TEN: A JOURNAL
Writing is important. It grooms better literary skills, it helps organize thoughts and at the very least, it serves a memory cue. When I got into grad school, one of my professors suggested I keep a journal throughout the process of obtaining my MBA. I did, and some of the thoughts, memories and ideas I had during that time are still valuable for me to call back on to this day.

journal

Keep your thoughts organized with a journal to stay on target for 2017.

NINE: $1,000 SAVED
This is actually a Dave Ramsey principle so I can’t really take credit for it but I do believe it’s a great idea. While it’s pretty well-known that you should definitely save more than $1,000, this will be great to have in the bank when you have a surprise car repair or something unexpected that life throws your way. When you’re a young professional, you can’t afford (pun intended) to miss work because life smacks you in the face with a financial crisis. Be prepared. Prepared people are professional.

EIGHT: NON-PROFIT EXPERIENCE
I’ve touched on this before, but being a well-rounded person means doing things that you DON’T get paid for, helping others who need it, and doing it happily. My philosophy on this is simple — helping other people makes you happy and does good to the world. It’s a win, win. Additionally, this is an excellent chance to network with people who care about the same things you do.

SEVEN: POWER SUIT
Even if you aren’t required to dress “business professional” every day, I’m a firm believer in a good power suit. Males and females alike, this quite simple wardrobe addition can be dressed up or down, and it provides an edge of confidence that drives success. I wear suit jackets with jeans to concerts, a suit jacket with fashion tights and heels to happy hour, and a suit jacket over a dress to church. It’s very functional.

A power suit

Even if you aren’t required to “dress professional” everyday you should invest in a  power suit.

SIX: STRONG LINKEDIN
Someone said once that planning is important because by the time you need something it’s too late. I’m even guilty of not updating my LinkedIn account all the time. It’s important for so many reasons, but mostly, it’s your most professional avenue to talk with people you’ve just met, or prospects that might be relevant in your future. If you have a photo that includes someone else (or even someone else cut out) — PLEASE take it down. If you have a selfie as your photo, that’s still not good enough. It’s better to not have one in these cases. Do yourself a favor, look up a photographer and price out a 2-pose head shot session. Most would be willing to help you out for a $150-ish bucks (don’t roll your eyes, I know you spent more on worse).

FIVE: GOOGLE DOCS KNOWLEDGE
Okay, I know Google Docs has been adopted by a lot of businesses now, but just in case — this will change your life. Getting to know the Google Docs system is super easy. After you sign into your Gmail (don’t have one? Get one), click the small multi-box icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Among other things, you’ll notice Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These three tools are the equivalent to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and are extremely fast, update in real-time, and allow commenting/multi-user participation. You can store relevant information that you need to have access to at all time on this thing in the Google Drive. If you’d like to learn more, you look here.

FOUR: HAPPY HOUR SKILLS
This may seem like a given, but it takes mastery in the early stages of a career. There are rules to happy hour. First one is don’t get trashed. If you’re visiting with a client or even a colleague, it’s important to keep consumption in check. Sloppy is the opposite of professional. I have a two-drink maximum for folks who I don’t consider “friends” — this term is used loosely but if you’re doing a lot of business with someone, they’re probably not your friend. Second rule is don’t talk about work. The point of getting out of the office to grab drinks is to escape the project you’ve been working on and either build rapport or bond. You can’t do either of those with a serious tone. Talk about the weather, a sports team, or something else but don’t talk about work.

social-hour-at-chandlers-happy-hour-drinks

Sloppy is the opposite of professional. Hone your happy hour skills and make after work events count.

THREE: VALID PASSPORT
I’ve talked before about how travel changes you. There’s a good chance that working your way up at a company will include a trip somewhere as an incentive or reward. You want to be ready and not the person they’re hassling for information. Also, if you’re saving up, you should be taking a trip to learn about life and people as often as it’s feasible. Personally, I promised myself a couple years ago that I’d leave the US once a year to experience another part of the world. It’s helped me see different perspectives and inspired personal growth.

TWO: WORKOUT ROUTINE
When you’re in the heat of the grind and hustling more than anyone you know, the first thing you’re most likely to neglect is yourself. I’m terrible about this. I stay up too late working, then sleep til the last possible second the next morning, then I’m groggy all day. When I get home, the LAST thing I want to do is workout. Personally, I think getting a workout in first-thing in the morning is a great start to a successful day. Working out relieves stress, creates decompression time and burns calories (HELLO!). It’s important and we know that. Find something you can live with and set a small goal, even if it’s twice a week. Your fifty-year-old self will thank you!

ONE: THANK YOU NOTES
The number one item on this list is Thank You Notes for a reason. When you’re climbing in a career, it’s really likely that someone is going to reach out and mentor you (be on the lookout for mentors every day). The fact is, starting out a career takes a lot of relationship building and mostly, that takes up other people’s time. Time is our most valuable asset. You want to make sure folks know you’re grateful for their wisdom, their expertise, and mostly, their time. Get some nice ‘Thank You’ cards and use them often. PS – having some nice business cards is also crucial as well. If you don’t like your company’s version (or are looking for a new job and networking) Moo.com does great ones!

 

There it is! We’ve covered the top ten most valuable things a young professional can have. Go forth and use them. One of the main things young folks forget is consistency. There’s a reason the successful business people always have the “Consistency is Key” picture in their office somewhere. It’s true. And adding all these things to your life will fall flat if you’re not consistent. Thanks for reading!

Rachel