“We don't accomplish anything in this world alone. Whatever happens, is the result of a whole tapestry of one's life, all the weavings of individual threads from one to another, that create something.”
As an executive coach, I always advise that when it comes to advancing your career, you need to consider who can help you the most.
It's not about how much you know, it's about who knows you.
Careers are not built on talent, hard work, and expertise alone. It's also the social capital you build through your networks that will help you get where you want to go faster.
There's a big difference between building versus leveraging relationships and I want to give you some practical tools to really start to think about how you can become more strategic with leveraging relationships because this can really be a game-changer.
So what do I mean by leveraging relationships? Strategy, Reciprocity. Power.
Now, you might be thinking, YUK. This sounds salesy or gimmicky or disingenuous.
I want to be really clear, if you want your career to grow, learning how to leverage relationships is not optional.
This isn't about meeting strangers in a forced situation, like at a networking event. I'm talking about real relationships, being very strategic with who you are bringing into your circle, and creating and maintaining connections with colleagues, customers, clients, mentors, supporters, and friends, to help you develop and advance your career. I can confidently say to you, the people who got promoted leveraged relationships.
They put their career ambitions front and center.
No one cares about your career as much as you do.
Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Think of the relationships you need.
- Enabler. An enabler is someone who gives you work, assigns you projects, opens up kind of like opportunities for you to maybe work in a different environment with different people. They are clear on what your ambitions are, what you want to learn, your developmental goals or where you want to grow. They enable your ambitions by providing you with work that's going to help you to learn and grow.
- Mentor. A mentor is a private relationship that is designed to teach you or coach you. Typically someone who is further ahead on the journey than you. The challenge is because it's an exchange of time, and teaching; it doesn't guarantee social capital, which is what you need more of in order to get ahead.
- Strategizer. A strategizer can help you strategize about where you are now, where you want to go, how you're going to get ahead, and the best way for you to get there. So that could be like a career coach, that could be a person inside HR, a friend, etc. They’re going to strategize with you about how to get from point A to point B career-wise.
- Connector. A connector is very important. This is someone who is well connected and is willing to make introductions to influential people for you. They know you, are going to be able to talk about you, especially in different circles that maybe you're not a part of. This is a more public relationship, and in order for somebody to be a connector, we probably have a good amount of emotional capital built up in our relationship. You want them to connect you to the right people to help you achieve your ambitions or where it is that you want to go. They connect you to other people. They might give you access to a really high visibility opportunity.
- Sponsor. A sponsor is someone who is going to publicly advocate for you and your career ambitions. Probably a senior person inside your organization, who is sitting at the table with other senior people, when decisions are being made about opportunities, roles, promotions. This person is going to fight for you. They're going to fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself, and they're going to talk about you positively. It's a very public relationship. They’re going to use their social capital, their relationships, their own status inside the organization, to help you advance your career. If you do not have a strong advocate/sponsor, when decisions are being made about new roles inside your organization about promotions, or even conversations about talent, if you don't have a strong voice in the room to advocate for you, you are probably going to miss out on some important opportunities. Everyone needs a sponsor.
I want you to start to think of each of these and start to map out who you think they are.
To make that easier for you, download my Leveraged Relationship Planner here.
If you would like to speak with me about your career goals, you can book a call with me directly now.