There's an awful lot of good advice out there in the blogosphere on how to succeed at many aspects of academia. DrugMonkey and Writedit are great resources for grant-writing, Professor in Training and Prof-like Substance are chronicling the trials and tribulations of being tenure-track assistant profs in the biological sciences, DrDrA is transitioning to the next level, and FemaleScienceProfessor provides a great deal of useful information from the senior level, etc. One thing that I have not seen discussed very much is something I have a problem with...
Some grad students and postdocs might be surprised to hear that once you reach the giddy heights of an academic position your kickass science is no longer sufficient. It's what will get you that position, but it's not enough to progress in your field from there. Yes, you can obtain grants and publish based solely on the science, but it's not enough. It's necessary, and importantly, you need some kickass science first and foremost. But kickass science alone probably won't get you invited to speak at a meeting or another institution. It won't set up the collaborations with the heavy hitters and rising stars in your field. Kickass science might make you a familiar name in your field, but not necessarily a presence in the field. It won't necessarily get you the recognition you think you're due.
That's where assertiveness comes in. Want to know how many speakers at meetings (other than the heavy hitters) get those slots? They asked. They pushed themselves forward, told the organizers "I have kickass science, I can give a kickass presentation and I deserve a slot". Ditto for many of those people giving seminars at your institution. Ditto for a collaboration between a heavy hitter and a junior person. Ditto for invitations to submit manuscripts for special issues of journals. Ditto for some publications in GlamourMagz. It goes on all the time. Next time you find yourself thinking "How the hell did they get that invitation/collaboration?", remind yourself they probably asked. Pushed. Lobbied. It's something I'm not terribly good at, but I'm trying to improve (damn it, I'm good enough, I deserve that recognition!).
People are surprisingly often willing to give someone a chance. But just one. You need to deliver. If you promise a kickass presentation of kickass science you had better deliver. Offered a killer collaboration? Deliver it. Pushed for an invitation to submit a stellar manuscript? Make it better than stellar. Otherwise those doors will be slammed shut. Too many doors slammed on you will get you a reputation that's hard to get rid of.
Something to think about and work on.
Just remember though, you have to have the kickass science first.