Achieve you career goals by connecting with other people.
Networking is the key to achieving your career goals. People run organisations. People make decisions based on their relationships with other people. People are imperfect and flawed (that’s why we love them).
I’m not going to get into how building connections with other people makes doing your job much easier.
What I’m focused on is you achieving your career goals. Other people make most of the decisions in an organisation that impact your ability to achieve your career goals. Networking is the key to achieving your career goals, because it is your way to influence the decision makers by making you and your work visible.
There are few things that we have complete control over. There are lots of decisions made which we don’t get to decide. Unless you choose to live in a bunker and eat tinned food for the rest of your days, other people will impact your life.
Someone else gets to make these decisions for you. Often that someone else is your manager.
How do I use networking to influence my manager?
You need to network to make your work visible
People think that their work will do the talking for them. Unfortunately, doing a great job doesn’t speak for itself. The stakeholders you engage, the people you work with do the talking.
In large organisations it is difficult for your manager to know what work you are doing. Judging the success of someone in a corporate role is often very subjective. Most managers are time poor and are probably limited in their ability to measure your performance. The indicator manages use to judge your success is stakeholders speaking highly of you.
If you do a great job, you need that group of stakeholders to tell your manager.
There are four groups of people who you need to network with to make your work visible to your leader and to build your brand.
1. Stakeholders who you work directly with
The first group are the easiest to network with. There are the people you engage directly through work. They can have direct hard evidence of how great you are.
Remember, work isn’t just about work. To make these people sing your praises, you will need to network with them. Networking is really simple, take the time to build a connection with them. Read our three essential skills of a networker to help.
2. The leadership team
Large teams will have a group of leaders who will often decide as a group key decisions. For instance, a bell curve for the team is often used to determine promotions and bonuses. That means there are a limited number of promotions or bonuses available so the leadership group decide who will get them. (Even when leadership teams deny there is a bell curve, there is pretty much always some form of bell curve in place.)
If you are invisible to the leaders, they aren’t going to support you in that room. You might have an awesome manager who fights your corner successfully. This is highly unlikely. To get the promotion you want you need as many leaders in that room knowing who you are and the great work you are doing. Consequently, you need to network with them. Networking is the key to achieving your career goals, getting these leaders to support you.
Find a way to have a conversation and make sure your name has a face associated to it for them (and even better if they know how great you are). Networking with leaders could be through meeting them at training sessions. You could reach directly out to them for a coffee.
3. The big bosses
The big bosses make the decisions in an organisation. They hold the power and getting connected to them is going to give you greater opportunities.
The challenge is, finding a way to network with them.
You do need to be careful that you don’t put your manager’s nose out of joint.
A big advantage to networking with your manager’s manager, is that if they say something positive about you it will have a big impact on your manager.
Perversely things going wrong can be a great opportunity to get visibility with the big bosses. If something goes wrong and requires their attention, you can be there to help fix it. It can put you on the radar. I’m not saying break things, but don’t panic if something does go wrong, see the opportunity it can present.
4. Indirect stakeholders, people out in the organisation
In large organisations there are thousands of people who are all possible connections.
Don’t be so arrogant to think that people out of your immediate world can’t provide insight and help to you.
These people may also be connected back to your world, which will help with providing visibility on the work you are doing.
But, I don’t want to be visible and I don’t need help achieving my goals
People may say I want to be invisible. I want to just do my job. I don’t want a pay increase or a promotion. It doesn’t matter to me that networking is the key to achieving your career goals.
If you are invisible you are more likely to not get what you want. Crappy work assignments may be given to you. The next time redundancies come round, maybe you’ll be an easy name to add.
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