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Networking outside of your organization is an integral part of building a well-rounded career. This is Part 4 of a 4-part series on assessing and improving your career.

Part 1, was about the importance of self-awareness. Part 2 was about building and cultivating important key relationships in your career. Part 3 highlighted the importance of networking within your organization.

Do you want to be considered an expert in your field?

External networking and visibility are important. Do you want to know and connect with others in key corporations that you may be interested in working for someday? Do you want external connections, like the internal ones, who become a part of your tribe, who you can reach out to for different business purposes?

The answer to all of these questions is in external networking.

How do you effectively network outside of the organization? Conferences are great opportunities for networking. You are there to learn something but also, to meet people in your field. I have met some of my most important contacts, both in corporate life and now as a coach, at conferences.

Networking is always about getting to know others effectively. They want to network with you too, so networking is a reciprocal activity that could lead to mutual benefits in the future. Networking can expand your influence and help you to grow. So many times, clients will come to me and say they don’t have a good network or they don’t really work at it. Don’t wait until you are looking for a job to build your network. Do it now! Get out there and build!

Linked In is really an outstanding tool for networking. I usually challenge my clients to go out to Linked In daily and link to 2 new people or go out and send a note to someone you already know on Linked In, just to keep in touch. Linked In lets you know birthdays, anniversaries, or promotions/job changes. What a great opportunity to reach out to your connections. If you want to go even further, invite connections to coffee or lunch to catch up.

What about networking groups?

Networking groups are an excellent way to join likeminded people. There are groups for every industry and role. You can go out to Linked In and search for groups in your industry or field. There are usually many. Similarly, there are other excellent networking groups such as Business Network International, or Women in Business Network. Some of these do charge a fee but make a determination upfront if the folks in this group would be an asset to your career. Sometimes, you can get your organization to sponsor you in a networking group as well.

Do you have a certification? There’s usually a networking group or association that allows opportunities to network.

Now, there are some cautions here. Take the time to truly understand the purpose of the group before you venture in. As I was trying to build my coaching business, I attended several Business Women’s Networking groups. Although the women were very nice and pleasant, I found myself inundated by requests to buy Tupperware, jewelry, crafts, insurance, and a curious product that guaranteed 24-hour lipstick. Well, OK. Fairly certain that these ladies…most of them retired…were NOT interested in any career/executive coaching. Ha! So choose your networking groups carefully.

The best Networking groups are more of a Mastermind group where everyone has the same idea, business focus, purpose, etc.

Take the time to work on your career, as well as your job requirements. They truly go hand in hand towards ensuring career success.

ACTION CHALLENGE

Can you take 9 minutes per day to work on networking? It really doesn’t take much time to reach out on Linked In or invite someone to coffee. Use those 9 minutes to invite, link in, or keep in touch. The benefits will be tremendous.

 

 

Up Coaching LLC.

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

 

 

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?”

ACTION CHALLENGE

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!

 

 

Up Coaching LLC.

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

 

 

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at aspects of self-awareness as a way to assess your career now and in the future. It’s always important to gauge your true feelings about the state of your career and how it is or is not working for you.

Your self-awareness is a critical part of this assessment, but your relationships with others are equally important.

Even as a solopreneur, relationships are key to my own success. They become much more so in a company/corporation. Having the right relationships, working on these relationships, and growing them can also grow your career.

It really does take a village to bring together a successful career. Think about the village of your situation right now. Who are the critical players? What exposure do you have to them? Are your relationships working in the way that’s best for you and your career?

If you regularly miss outings and other opportunities to be with peers and leaders outside of the office, you may be missing an opportunity in your career.

Here are a few things to consider in cultivating the right relationships in your career:

How’s your relationship with your boss and with their peers? It’s always important to have a great relationship with your boss, but it’s equally important to have visibility within your boss’s peer group. These are the leaders who will be in the room discussing your career. So many times as a senior leader, I would present candidates for promotion only to hear my peers say, “But I don’t even know who that is.” Assess your visibility in the organization. Cultivate your relationship with your boss. If you have a difficult relationship, consider moving or find out what you need to do to manage your boss effectively.

Do you have the right people/team around you?

Sounds cliché but the right people really do make all the difference. Is your team a cooperative one? Do you have a supportive boss or support from upper management? Do you feel a part of the team or an outsider? How well do you know your co-workers? What steps do you take to network with peers on a regular basis? You are all working toward the same goals. It helps to have a great relationship with these individuals.

Who are your supporters/mentors/sponsors? List them out. How often do you meet with them? Don’t have mentors or sponsors? Now is the time to work to cultivate these important relationships. Many leaders consider it an honor to mentor others (at one time, I mentored 25 individuals as a leader). Sponsors are developed over time. Please see my article on Sponsorship for more information.

How’s the stability of the department/company? Is it time to look at options? Although this is not a relationship factor, per se, this is more about being aware of what is going on around you. Is the company stable? Have there been rumors of growth or rumors of downsizing? Is there a lot of business transformation going on around you? A key indicator of change is when a company is either growing or losing market share. This is why it’s important to be aware of key company trends. If things are going in the wrong direction, what options do you want to look at now?

Understanding your self and your relationships are important to ensure your career is on track. In Part 3 of this series, I’ll discuss how networking impacts your relationships and your career.

ACTION CHALLENGE

What relationships stood out for you as important to cultivate?  List these and prioritize.  In listing them, what actions are you ready to take to build and strengthen these important individuals in your career.

 

 

Up Coaching LLC.

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