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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

 

 

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while and I do apologize. I’ve spent quite a bit of time creating my new website: www.upcoached.com. Please let me know what you think! And yes, I will gratefully accept any recommendation you wish to give on the website as well. Thank you.

Now, let’s get back to your career:

Is your career where you want it to be right now?

There are times when the day to day busyness of your job prevents you from looking at the big picture of your career and where it’s headed. It’s important to take the time to provide perspective into your profession as a way of increasing overall career fulfillment. This perspective allows you to determine what steps you need to take to move your career in the direction you want it to be.

Three factors are critical in the assessment of your career: Self-awareness, relationships, and networking. These are three factors that heavily influence your career now and in the future.

Self-assessment is a great place to start. This is about taking the time to be introspective and thoughtful about where you are and where you want to be in the future. What do you love about the career you’ve chosen? Is it fulfilling? What kind of feedback have you received about your strengths and opportunity areas? What do you want to work on? Can you set some goals?

At the same time, relationships with others are also critical. There’s a relationship with your boss…a A truly important person in your career. There are also relationships in building a support team, such as mentors or sponsors. All of these factors are good to take a look at as well.

This article begins with self-assessment. Next week, we will cover the relationship assessment, followed by networking.

Take the time to answer the following questions thoughtfully and honestly. No one else needs to see these answers. The whole exercise is designed to make you really think about where your career is and what actions are available to you now and in the future.

Are you ready? Let’s go…

Are you doing what you love? Is your career fulfilling you? A fulfilling career is one where you truly enjoy the work that you do. Yes, there are ups and downs, but for the most part, you enjoy the work assigned. You feel fulfillment in your work. What specific aspects of your career do you enjoy the most? If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, take a look at what’s missing for you. This could be an indication of the need to change jobs or careers.

Do you have the right amount of work/life balance? I once had a job that required about 14 to 16 hours per day. It was unnecessarily demanding and for all of those hours, I ended up receiving very little in return, in the long run. It’s always important to strike a balance. How’s your balance? Is it where you want it to be? Do you have a life outside of work?

Are you looking for a promotion? Who knows this? At one point in my career, I thought everyone in leadership knew that I was looking for my next promotion. Never assume! As it turned out, a chance golf game where I was paired with my VP enabled me to discuss this with her. Her reaction was shocking. She didn’t know I was working toward the promotion before this chance meeting. Leaders are very busy people and don’t know what they don’t know. Never assume that they do.

How’s your self-marketing? Doing a great job is just the “ticket to the dance.” It’s not enough to do an outstanding job. You need a self-marketing strategy that works. How do you self-market? Is there a peer that does a great job of this (there usually is!)? What techniques can you “borrow” from that person?

If you’ve ever done a 360 assessment, what are some of your strength and challenge areas? Or have you received feedback on performance reviews? What are you doing to address these? Constructive feedback should always be viewed as important and addressed in some way. Do you need to do anything differently? Behaviors? Knowledge? All important to look at. Do you have a plan to work on these?

What do you need to learn more about? We all have some knowledge gaps. How do you work to close these gaps and expand your knowledge?

Answer these questions and pay close attention to the insights you have about the state of your career.
What are you seeing in your answers? What actions, if any, do you want to take?

ACTION CHALLENGE

Take the Career Track assessment and share your results with a trusted friend, advisor, or coach. Think about this as the beginning of constructing a Career Road Map. Determine what strategies and goals you can address from this assessment.

 

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

 

 

What does employee engagement really mean?

One definition says it’s an employee “who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.” Statistics show that engaged employees are more productive. They play “all in to win.” This can only benefit the organization. In fact, according to a Gallup survey, companies with engaged employees outperform those without, by a staggering 202%. With such productivity benefits, a culture of engagement is essential to performance.

Consider this statistic as well….according to Employee Channel, only 16% of employees in the workforce feel connected and engaged.

Employee engagement is affected by several things, but let’s consider one important factor…appreciation on the job. What would it take to create the kind of workplace culture that cultivates gratitude and appreciation? It’s not just a leadership job…it really speaks to all of the interactions in the culture every day, both big and small.

I will confess that at times, employee engagement was a mystery to me as a leader. As I referenced in my article on The Power of Thank You, an annual corporate opinion survey at my previous corporation would, time and again, show that employees did not feel appreciated by leadership. This was confusing. We had pizza lunches, offsite events, performance bonuses, gift card reward programs, etc. What exactly did these employees want?

Well, I can tell you now that it wasn’t food or a ballgame, though both of those are nice to have. 70% of working Americans receive no praise or recognition on the job, according to Gallup. Ah, this might provide a clue.

For example, we had a performance bonus system in my corporation. However, it had been decided that bonus awards would be kept completely private between manager and employee, to cut down on jealousy and gossip. I can now see that this system was flawed. Employee bonuses should be presented as an acknowledgment before peers and leadership alike. Keeping it in secret only kept it unknown as a form of appreciation.

In this season of Thanksgiving, gratitude and appreciation can go hand in hand to create more employee engagement. What are some ways to create an appreciative culture in your workplace?

  1. As a leader, encourage a culture of gratitude. Leaders really do set the tone, and it can start with you.
  2. Start by thanking 2 people sincerely every day. Try to go 360 degrees…someone above you, a peer, and a subordinate but if you don’t have direct reports, it can be a new employee or an intern, for example.
  3. Consider setting up an appreciation board or corner where employees are encouraged to find ways to say thanks to others in the organization…written cards or some other way that can be posted on the board.
  4. Buy someone lunch to express appreciation, but then ask them to pass it on to someone else in the department showing their appreciation. Get the flywheel started.
  5. Get a supply of thank you notes and send them out for those times when someone came to the rescue. A former CEO of Campbell’s Soup wrote some 30,000 personal thank you notes to his employees. A thank you goes a very long way.
  6. Take a look at organizational practices, such as the performance bonus mentioned previously. Are some of these practices working against employee appreciation and engagement?
  7. Find the things that you are most grateful for in your daily work and write these down. Aim for 3 to 5 items you are most grateful for at work every day.
  8. Remember birthdays, work anniversaries, Boss’s Day, Administrative Assistant’s Day, etc. Use these days to acknowledge those around you.
  9. Ask for feedback. This is a way of acknowledging others that their opinion and thoughts really do matter.
  10. Think of times when you felt sincerely acknowledged in the workplace. What did that feel like? How can you recreate that feeling and pass it on?

This is a good time to remember the power of gratitude and acknowledgment to create greater employee engagement and productivity.

 

 

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

 

 

How’s the new year/new decade going so far?

Did you set any new year’s goals or resolutions? How are those going?

You have probably heard some of the statistics around resolutions. Nielsen did a study a few years ago showing that only 64% of resolutions last longer than the first month, and 46% last longer than six months.

While some of these numbers are better than I thought, they also show that, basically, resolutions don’t work! However, I have something that may help your goals stay in place longer than the statistics show.

It starts with writing out a robust vision of the future.

Now, I’ve written about vision before Vision and Values and Achieving Career Goals with Vision and if you are a client, you know that I always begin with helping you to define the vision. Vision is so important because this becomes the foundation for setting your strategies and goals to attain that vision.

Vision can be around any aspect of your life…relationships/family, health, free time, vacations, etc. This article focuses on careers. As you set the vision, it’s important to dream big…very big. I like to think about it this way….if you could have, do, or be anything in your career, what would it be?

This is the first question you want to ask yourself in creating a vision.

The second question is, around what is important about that vision? What about the vision is compelling for you? What makes you think about this as a vision? Having the reason for your vision helps to inform the importance of the vision for you personally.

Example of a career vision: I see myself promoted to Assistant Vice President of Marketing. I have Directors reporting to me and we are focused on exceeding the goals of the corporation with effective metrics and Key Performance Indicators. Becoming a VP will fulfill my desire to achieve and be recognized in the corporation. It will also present me with the career challenges and financial compensation that I’m looking for in the future.

Another example: I see myself as an entrepreneur, running a successful bakery, and café. I have a passion for baking and love serving others so this would be an ideal situation for me to pursue.

The second is a simpler version of the vision but works equally as well.

The vision should be stated in terms that make it robust, compelling, personal, (although you can share), and truly paints a picture of the future that you want to have.

About 20 years ago, I was inspired to write a vision for my future based on listening to some Tony Robbins (amazing speaker and motivator) tapes. The vision I wrote was to go to Hawaii for the first time (Vacation vision). The second was a Career Vision to get promoted two levels above where I was…to Sr. Director.

As I wrote these visions, I didn’t know how I was going to achieve them, I only focused on what, and that’s important as you are visioning. Don’t get caught up in the practical wisdom. With my two visions, I had wanted to go to Hawaii for a while but had never declared it as a vision. For my career, I had been waiting for an overdue promotion to one level up…two levels seemed an amazing vision.

The wheels were set in motion once I defined the vision. I didn’t even write specific goals on each of these but thought about the visions daily. I started taking actions (very important) to achieve the vision…like researching more about Hawaii…where to stay, how much it would cost, etc. I also began to make it clear to my leadership that my goal was to be promoted, and began to act as if I were already at that level.

The result…my husband, son, and I vacationed in Hawaii that summer, and I was promoted that same year, right after I returned from Hawaii! I received the second promotion six months later!

This convinced me of the power of a vision, and while I don’t always practice it for myself, I was reminded of this powerful practice recently through a coach collaboration group I’m working with.

I kept my written vision in front of me every day and dedicated some time to think about it. This is one way to keep it before you. Another is a vision board that you can do physically or electronically as well. Anything that will help keep the vision before you is important.

Is it time to think about what you really want in the future? The beginning of a new year and new decade are perfect times to vision what areas of your career and life you would like to focus on. Start from a clean slate. Forget the past…this is all about you having the career and life you really want!

ACTION CHALLENGE

Consider your career. Where do you see yourself in the next year/five years? What is your vision? Write this down and be sure to include what’s important to you about achieving this. Then use a vision board or other reminders to inspire you daily.
I would love to hear some of your successes out there with setting a Vision!

 

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