Archives for mentorship

Another Key Habit to Turbo Boost Your Career Growth

 

Last week I shared how you can make a habit of taking regular, strategic action to build and sustain accelerated momentum in your career growth, and I did a live FB broadcast in which I shared how often to evaluate your desired and actual career growth if you want to stay in control of your career.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also share this key habit that my most successful change agent clients attribute to their ability to catapult their careers and influence.

The book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi was released in 2005, just when I was developing my chops in networking. Honestly, I haven’t read the book. My boss at the time did, and he reinforced the primary message of the book, which is inherent in its title.

While I didn’t necessarily follow the advice of never eating alone, since I worked through many lunches and, as an ambivert who doesn’t like to talk when I eat, nor do I enjoy watching or hearing other people eat, it would sap my energy. I did start inviting more people to sit down for meals (or drinks), and it was transformative.

The clients who have been able to realize the greatest transformations in their organizations attribute their success to the time that they invested getting to know people in the organization and the efforts that they made to learn from others’ perspectives.

A Harvard Business Review IdeaCast with Julia Kirby from 2010 stated that women are over mentored and under sponsored. Sheryl Sandberg’s top-seller, Lean In, promoted mentorship and sponsorship, but let’s focus on sponsorship because it is a relationship with so much more potential to elevate you and your influence.

Much like finding a mentor, you have to let the relationship lead. Inspiring someone to sponsor you may be an objective, and it doesn’t hurt to have a wish list of people in your organization or a target organization that you’d like to have as a sponsor. However, the outcome you want is more achievable when you approach it relationally vs. transactionally > nurture the relationship to evolve to that level.

Thinking transactionally vs. relationally is a mistake many people make when it comes to networking. People on the job may limit their internal networking to their department, thinking these are the only people who are relevant to job performance. Job seekers sometimes only want to talk with you if you have a job to offer, and it fits XYZ criteria. Recruiters and employers sometimes only want to talk with you if you fit an open job requirement. Deciding that a job isn’t a match doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship, however. It can be the start of something completely new and unexpected.

The key word here, however, is growth! Expansion. Think openness. I’m not just talking about engaging one person as a sponsor who can influence your career, but to engage people across the organization as supporters and advocates by being their champion.

I get that we all have constraints on time. I also see being judicious with your time is a wise practice. We can’t possibly meet with everyone we’d like to, or who would like to meet with us.

Let me propose a structure that is amenable for the busy and/or introverted professional that still enables you to expand your network and influence, learn what can be leveraged, and discover magical synergy with unexpected people.

The first step is always to make a list. Start with those you know are impacted by your role and vice versa. Eventually, you may need to use a company directory, organizational chart, or LinkedIn. Consider other divisions, and, of course, higher ups. Work in a small company? Just think a bit outside the box. Consider meeting with vendors and customers/clients. You just may need to get the okay and authorization from the points of contact, and have met with them first.

Prioritize the list

  1. First meet with centers of influence. These may be leaders, but they also may not be visible leaders, as in executives. Sometimes they are appointed to lead special projects or to liaise on critical or failing initiatives. These are people whose opinions matter to others. They most likely achieved this station by doing exactly what is outlined here. You’ll greatly accelerate your own path to this station by learning first what they know. By meeting with these individuals, you can also better develop a list of questions to ask the next audience about why things are the way they are, even if a center of influence clued you in. Get right to the source. Put yourself on their radar and check in with them on what they are working on. Ask them what they need to move things forward faster, and then do some leg work to source possible resources or solutions.
  2. Meet with the higher-ups to better understand their vision. Yes, ideally, leadership would be doing a great job of relaying the vision to each and every employee. You and I both know there are too many companies in which there is a huge gap here. When you take control of your own career, you own your understanding of the company’s vision, too. Now, when you ask why things are done the way that they are done, you are doing so with the critical context of their desired outcomes.
  3. Intentionally diversify your list to meet with people at all levels and across departments, including those whose efforts may not get their fair share of accolades or visibility. Of course, your intelligence will have that much more integrity if you are also mindful of ethnic, age, and gender diversity as well.

If you are working full-time, allocate two hours each week for 1-on-1 networking. One meeting will be an hour, so break bread, even if, like me, you prefer eating alone.

The next hour of time you can break up into four 15-minute follow up conversations, similar to a scrum meeting, where you check in on challenges, problems or initiatives you learned about in a prior conversation to see what progress was made or how a resource you offered worked out.

You can also break it up into three 20-minute tele-coffees. These are discovery meetings. You’re getting to know someone and their perspective on a less superficial level. You may determine through these discoveries that more time is necessary and schedule a follow-up meal.

Make sure at least one of these meetings each week is with someone with whom you wouldn’t normally interface.

If you are unemployed, allocate five hours per week for 1-on-1 networking. Three of those hours will be 1-hour meetings. Then you can use one hour for 15-minute follow-ups and another for 20-minute tele-coffees. If you are just starting, then use the first week for just tele-coffees or setting up meetings/tele-coffees for the next week.

Keep in mind that it will take an additional 30-60 minutes each week to send invitations and that you’ll need to send about 10x more invitations than you can accept to make sure that your networking card is full. Over time, you will get better at sending invitations that get accepted, and your momentum will compound, so it won’t take quite as much time to fill your networking card.

What do I mean by networking card? Well, you can take it figuratively, like a dance card. At one time there was such a thing as a physical dance card, but now it’s really just meant to imply that there is so much time for dancing, so many songs played, and so many chances to have a different dance partner. You can also make it literal, and this is recommended. Allocate time on your calendar every week for this activity.

How exactly does this practice lead to growth? Put simply:

Perspective > Root Cause Identification > Solution Development

Relationships > Trust > Influence > Buy-in

Consider everything you wish other people (leaders, people in other departments, or customers) understood about the challenges of your job that would enable smarter, better solutions to emerge.

Now, think of the corporate ladder as a physical ladder. The higher up you go, the more you can see the bigger picture. The pieces may look smaller, but you can see better how they all interconnect or fail to interconnect.

The higher up you go in an organization, the more you see the bigger picture, understand the overall vision of what the organization is intended to achieve and make decisions that leverage and orchestrate the smaller pieces to work toward the vision.

By meeting with and learning from people at all levels, you can better assess what gaps need filling, what needs to be done first before an initiative can move forward successfully, and what are leaderships’ blind spots that stand to sabotage the realization of the organization’s ultimate vision. You don’t necessarily have to come up with an end-to-end solution. This is more about learning and sharing insight.

In regards to relationships, there’s a saying I quote often: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Even though in the traditional office place, emotions were considered taboo to express, they still existed. Some emotions, such as fear and anger, were actually leveraged. Good thing we are evolving, because history and science have proven that is not the way to garner the best performance from your workforce. Now we can make clear, fact-based cases for acknowledging in the workplace that people are human, have emotions, and that if more positive emotions are leveraged, more positive performances will present.

People like to be heard, as I shared in a previous video. Many companies recognize and attempt to fill communication gaps, but still fall short on listening. Rather, not so much listening, but listening AND taking action. If you choose to be a champion for the workforce and solutions that help them, you will earn respect, admiration and loyalty.

Words of warning: Be mindful of how you present your own challenges and how you share what you learn about others’ challenges. Someone may tell you something in confidence that they don’t want to be revealed. You will only build trust that leads to future buy-in if you only share what you have permission to share.

Next week I will share how you can use internal intelligence to create your own ideal role in the organization with minimized risk for you and those who confided in you.

If you want a partner who can contribute strategy, guidance, tools, and accountability in your sponsorship initiatives, let’s talk.

U2 – Elevation

U2’s new album, “Songs of Experience” out now. Listen to the album: https://lnk.to/ZaQRe Explore more music from U2: https://lnk.to/oVysR Follow U2: http://www.u2.com/ Facebook: https://U2.lnk.to/FBID Twitter: https://U2.lnk.to/TWID Instagram: https://U2.lnk.to/ISID Music video by U2 performing Elevation. (C) 2006 Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 5 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To, Part 2

Respect – Undergrad Graduation by m00by of Flickr

 

It probably sounds a bit condescending, this, “Take it from me; this is how the world works” post. You are probably sick of that, huh?

Well, don’t tune out, because this is just what I wish I knew, and if I had, I might be much further along in my mission, which would actually mean that the fixes to what is broken in careering and hiring would be available and applied already. When I put it that way, can you see the butterfly effect of NOT knowing this?

So, here are two more things that, if I would have known then, I would have been much more prepared and confident to confront the “real world,” instead of wasting time avoiding it. And, yes, there are two more tidbits of advice that I will share next week. (Be sure to read the first part of this series, if you missed it.)

 

  1. At this moment, if you make a humble yet concerted attempt, you will find it easy to get advice, find a mentor, get inside information on the workings of companies that can help you get hired and succeed.

When I was advised that networking was the number one way to get a job, I was very discouraged. I did not come from a well-connected family. I did not perceive my inner circle to be influential, and I also did not feel confident that I was anyone who could make a strong enough impression to impress a stranger. That is what I thought networking was, and it seemed so inauthentic to me – shaking hands, schmoozing, BSing, bragging… I was more content to avoid corporate jobs, politics, and bureaucracy. I thought pursuing a career in radio was a way to do that.

I was NAÏVE.

Here is what I wish I had known – People LOVE helping other people! If I had seen it more as asking for advice and mentorship, I would have found that, whether I asked a stranger or an acquaintance, the percentage of the time I asked for help, I would have received it.

See, I thought most people were getting it all WRONG! I thought they were foolish to play along with this “dog and pony show” (the actual words of one of my former interns) only to get STUCK in corporate servitude for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. So, I did not bother asking for advice.

I was POMPOUS and STUBBORN.

I just had not known many people who were fulfilled and happy in their corporate jobs, but that did not mean they did not exist. I did not know at the time I would even want that someday, but if I had taken the opportunity to sit down with someone in human resources or recruiting (the corporate kind, not the MLM kind – I did that!) to learn about skills required, the challenges, and the triumphs, it would have altered my past, present, and future.

Though I do feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be and believe that all things happen in their own good time, my curiosity will always lead me to wonder where I would be if…

When you are in college or beginning your career, people see you as very moldable, and will want to help you now more than ever.  As you grow in your career, it’s strange, but not as many people will make the time to help you – some still will, and it is worth asking, but there seems to be a more worthwhile endeavor in helping a young person. Perhaps it seems too hard to change a more experienced person, or perhaps there is an increased perception that you are competition. Either way, obtain as much support and advice as you can right now, and furthermore, FOLLOW UP on that advice. The more you reward people for taking the time by making it pay off, the more people will be willing to help you in the future. Also, pay it forward. In fact, the fastest way to learn is to teach. You do not have to be in a position of power to be in a position to help.

 

  1. No one expects you to know it all, but be prepared to PROVE what you do know.

As I have mentioned before, those that hire a lot tend to be skeptical, if not cynical. If you genuinely do not know an answer, it is best to admit it. There is the famous saying, “fake it till you make it,” and that has paid off for some people, but you should also note that many well-respected leaders do not know the ins and outs of the jobs underneath them, but they know how to hire, trust, nurture and support experts, and can get answers when they are needed. Being resourceful is much more valuable than being all-knowing, and easier to believe, too.

As far as what you do know, that will have to be proven. If you merely state that you have X skill, without a clear demonstration of how you used that skill to add value, you are leaving much to be guessed, and you want them CERTAIN of your skills. So, make sure you explain what you are capable of DOING with that skill to clearly convey your strength.

 

Next week I will share two more wisdom bombs to help graduates accelerate their professional growth. By the time you are 30, the “cool kids” are the ones who are rock stars at their jobs and can afford a great lifestyle.  It is okay to be a late bloomer like I was, but trial and error in your career can have a cost you will NEVER know.

Please share what you want today’s graduates to know.