Three Steps to Level and Power Up Your Network to Elevate Your Career
The number one indicator of career success is a strong network. But guess what?
Not all networks are equal. Some people seem to have power networks that are broader and more connected. Power networks contain connections who not only know of opportunities, but also share them.
Power networks energize your career and life. And you don't have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to have one. Anyone can create a power network. Here are three steps to cultivate a power network that can light up your career.
Who's in your network?
Studies show that your connections can a significant impact on your success. If you have a network of extraordinarily focused and intentional people in your network, chances are you will be the same. On the other hand, if your network consists of folks who are unhappy with their careers and aren't willing to try anything different, you most likely will feel the same way and not take the actions necessary to move forward.
If you are trying to advance, you want people in your network with that same focus. People who will prod you along and provide you with advice.
Also, as these people advance, they will be able to open doors and make introductions. These go-getters tend to have excellent relationships with people at all levels. Many opportunities for advancement and speaking come from these relationships.
In developing new relationships, seek out go-getters who have the pulse of what is going on and who positively relate to career development. Remember, in developing this relationship, you also need to be there for these people.
Also, if your network consists mainly of people at your level or below, you need to raise your network's caliber. Why? Because people above your level know what it takes to get there and may hear of opportunities to help you. Someone at your level might not tell you that they heard from a recruiter looking to fill a position a level up from where you are today. Your peers might jump on that for themselves.
It would be best to consider where and how you are networking and how you are when building relationships. Do you meet senior people and say nothing because you don't think they will be interested? Or do you go right into sales mode - trying to convince them to adopt you into their inner circle?
Not sure how you are presenting? Ask a buddy.
[Related: Seven Reasons Your Career Has Stalled]
How are you networking?
People often say:
I am out every night, and yet I don't have a network that helps me get ahead or develop business prospects.
Then they are shocked when I say:
You are not networking. You are going to events.
Going to a ton of unrelated events without cultivating relationships will not help you develop a power network. You need to have a strategy for not just meeting people, but cultivating a relationship.
It is much more effective to join a committee and become actively engaged than to go to a bunch of one-off events. When you are actively involved, people get to know you and see how you work and think. Appreciating you makes them more comfortable with wanting to help you.
No one is going to meet you at an event and give you a recommendation or hire you. People need to know you to think about you. And better yet, you can show that you are a great connection by doing something for them first. You need to develop a strategy to cultivate the relationship, including adding value for them.
To create a power network, you also should be consistent in your networking. You cannot just turn it on when you need something. You must always be cultivating relationships and be there for your network when they need you.
Also, leverage your network. You can ask your contacts to help you with informational interviews or introductions that could lead to a broader network. When leveraging your network, be as specific as possible as to what you need.
Where are you networking?
Again, going to events or joining committees to meet certain types of people will not help you if your ideal connection does not go to these events or join these committees.
If you are a professional and are looking for clients, and join a committee with all professionals looking for clients, guess what? You are not going to find any clients.
If you are trying to broaden your network to include more senior people to gain access to thought leadership and potential opportunities, and you are one of the most senior people at the conferences you attend, it is not going to happen.
It would be best to determine where your ideal contact is hanging out, go to those locations, and add value to their lives. Value does not have to be professional value - it can be personal.
By taking the time to assess your current networks and how and where you network, you can determine if you have a power network or one that needs to be recharged. By investing time in yourself, thinking intentionally about your contact cultivation, and giving others value, you can elevate your network and career.
Sheila Murphy is a career coach and former award-winning Fortune 50 senior officer who helps lawyers, professionals, and executives gain more control over their careers, compensation, and courage.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Focus Forward Consulting
For over 20 years, as an award-winning former senior legal officer for a Fortune 50 company, I successfully developed, coached, and transformed talent in corporate America and law firms. As a former senior in-house leader, I developed talent, strong leaders, and diverse and successful teams. I know what clients look for when hiring lawyers and law firms and how to design and navigate a successful career. I created programs, conducted training, and have spoken on... Continue Reading
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