In assessing your career, the size and quality of your network is a strong indicator of future success. It’s the third element in this series.
In Part 1, I wrote about the importance of self-awareness. It’s only by looking within that we can start to see where we truly are, and what changes we need to make to grow…now and in the future.
Part 2 was about the importance of key relationships in your career…and how to build and cultivate these.
This is Part 3 of a 4-part series on assessing and improving your career. In Parts 3 and 4, I’ll be covering the importance of networking and how to improve your network. A strong network can equate to a successful career and there are various aspects of networking to consider. There is networking within the organization, as well as outside of the organization, including informational interviewing and networking groups.
Networking is an important skill to learn and practice, daily.
The simplest definition is establishing new contacts and keeping in touch with existing contacts, all toward supporting each other now and in the future. Networking is truly an essential way to grow your career, period. It is such an important skill to learn and practice, and you do get better and better with practice.
The skill of networking goes hand in hand with cultivating key relationships in your career. There are people you need to get to know. You need to increase visibility with these individuals. Now, this is not just for promotion, per se, but a network can be very helpful in advancement. Networks can support you with any challenge or new venture you might want to move forward on. Sometimes, a network is just a part of your larger team at work, that you can call on for advice or to bounce something off of.
Most people don’t take the time to build and follow up with their networks until they need them. This may be too late. 85 to 90% of jobs today are found through networking!
How’s your networking within the organization?
Most of us don’t think of internal networking is as important as it is. You may think, “Well, I’m here to work, not socialize.” Networking is not socializing, but some social activity may be a part of it. It’s taking the time to get to know the people in your organization who play a role in your success, which is just about everyone. Get to know other leaders and individuals over lunch or coffee.
A CEO of the Fortune 100 Corporation where I worked, always arrived at the cafeteria for lunch and sat with different individuals unannounced. What a great way for a leader to get in touch with what’s really going on in the organization. That’s one of the benefits of networking.
Are you too busy with outside activities…maybe it’s the team offsite or ballpark for an afternoon? It might even be a game of golf. In Part 1 I discussed a time when I wanted a promotion and just assumed that the leadership knew this. That was a false assumption, and at a chance golf game with a senior leader, I found a willing ear. But this was only after she raised the subject of my next move. If I had cultivated the right relationships beforehand, perhaps I would have had that promotion sooner. In going golfing, I was actually networking very effectively.
Be strategic in your networking endeavors. You don’t need to get to know everyone…that would be a new full-time job in itself! Instead, seek out key individuals in your 360-degree (boss, peers, subordinates) circle. Set a goal for each week…I will have coffee with someone in my circle this week.
In addition, think of people outside your 360-degree net…who else do you want to get to know? In Part 4, I will cover networking outside the organization and joining networking groups, as well as answer the question, “But what if they don’t want to network with me?”
Write down all of the individuals within the organization who you want to network and establish a relationship with. Networking can be as simple as setting up a quick minute to introduce yourself or inviting someone to coffee or lunch. It has to be sincere…most people can spot insincerity in your intent, so be careful. Know why you want to network with someone and reach out!
Lupe S. Wood, MS, PCC, is a certified Career/Executive Coach. She coaches individuals and leaders to career fulfillment, transition, and advancement. She also consults for results with businesses and solopreneurs. Her background includes 12 years in senior leadership for a Fortune 100 corporation and 7 years as a coach, with a Master’s degree in Organizational Effectiveness and Executive Coaching.
For more information, please visit my website at www.upcoached.com