Reap the benefits of an extra effort on networking skills
âI was only task-oriented,â admitted my client. âI thought that the project proposal I presented would be approved based on all the data and information I provided. Merit only. I hadn’t really thought about who would be needed for approval.
h, “the people”. Yes Yes. In business and in life, it always depends on people, right, guys? But, hey, dear readers, if we all consistently applied the strategies and skills that help us better connect with these invaluable people, I would be out of a job. So here’s another column on how to focus on people.
1 Think of your communication as a campaign
Some of us might still think that the word communication begins with a small “c”. It is a self-evident approach, which considers communication as another part of our life. The one that each of us who opens our mouths manages to do when we make sound come out. But those of you who are regular readers know that the type of communication I write about is most definitely a word that begins with a capital letter “C”. It’s the kind of mindful approach that understands that strategy and preparation must be applied long before you land your gob.
Think of âCommunicationâ more like the word âCampaignâ. For example, think about all the people you might need to achieve a goal. In the case of my client, it was to get her project approved. These people are your target voters and you need to design a campaign strategy to involve them. In a real country country, we would organize focus groups or conduct polls to find out more about our constituency groups. In business, this requires you to hone your internal networking skills.
2 Get advice from the start
I’ve written before about the importance of building your network outside of your business. But now, let’s focus on why you should systematically build, maintain, and strengthen your network within your organization as well.
As you already know, my client had not had regular conversations to build relationships with her supervisor. She didn’t know what made him vibrate. It was a surprise to her, but it shouldn’t be for you, as she discovered in real time during her presentation that her boss’s goals were miles from hers. His proposal was not alone on its merits. The personality and interests of the decision-maker must be taken into account. But they weren’t. And the boss did not give the green light.
There is no guarantee that her proposal would have been approved if she had made the effort to know her boss beforehand, but consider this: if she had, she could have asked for “conceptual advice” or ” general guidance on management â. Be comfortable enough with key decision makers that you can ask for their input early on. You can get a pre-purchase. They can become evangelists or champions of your proposal, or you can realign, modify, or add things they suggest to help you cut the line.
3 build relationships in increments
Of course, it’s not just because you might need their approval someday that you should start getting to know your leaders now. A variety of positive outcomes can result, such as increasing your own visibility, uncovering cross-cutting and promotional opportunities, or even obtaining positive mentorship.
Building relationships takes time. Don’t expect a one-time meeting. Try shorter, more frequent meetings like biweekly or monthly to start. Stay consistent. As for how to start, don’t overthink this one. You don’t need a special hook to start a conversation, just ask. Identify direct reports or senior leaders in your department or division and request a 15 minute conversation because you want to “learn a little more about your background and work experience.”
Cultivate your curiosity to take more interest in them as real people. Ask them to learn from them about their own career experiences in a meeting. Then learn about their goals for their teams, department, region, or whatever they have an impact on. In another meeting, ask them to refer you to other leaders. Seek to build your relationship in a progressive and meaningful way.
4 Track times and take notes
After each meeting, write a few notes. Using Excel or a follow-up document of your choice, write down any interesting stories or information that stood out to you during the conversation. The names of their favorite teams, pets, and even kids are all helpful. Just because you’re trying to manipulate that person into accepting your whims, it’s because you’re not going to depend on your failing memory when you meet multiple people over months or even years. Plus, you never know what seemingly flippant remark will one day become a cornerstone of relationship building.
Purposefully advancing ourselves, our careers, and our lives requires an evolution of thought. We must first believe that we can move forward. Embrace the change and disrupt your current thinking and approach.
I was happy to see how well my client took this advice. She made a commitment to start contacting her supervisor immediately. I’ll keep you all posted, as I’m sure the next time she comes up with a proposal, she will already have great support from her boss. You can do the same.