Welcome to Career Strategy #3, where we talk about networking – or connecting with people – in a fun practical way, I promise.
After you mentally plant the seeds of real advancement in your corporate job, you need to plan and prepare carefully for your strategy to that promotion.
One area that helps you move up the ladder is to develop is your network outside of your immediate job. Let’ talk about why and how to do that in a way that works well for your career.
If you have been in corporate for a long time, your network is most likely your immediate peers in your team or maybe other teams in the larger organization.
If your mindset is well-ingrained in the corporate culture, which happens to the best of us “naturally” over time, then it’s likely that your network is limited to that small circle of influence.
Now if you have been diligent, maybe you can count some industry colleagues from other companies in your network too but that’s likely the extent of your professional network, and you know what? That’s probably all you need to get your job done so if you haven’t grown your network bigger, don’t worry about it but now it is necessary to build a strategic and intentional network that helps you move up the ladder.
The problem with having just a small network made up of your immediate peers, co-workers and some industry fellow peers is that it keeps your circle of influence very small. And in order to get promoted and have a big career, you want to start with expanding your circle of influence, one strategic person at a time.
And this is where you want to push outside your comfort zone and expand your circle of influence. Now you want to approach your network in a new light and you want to extent outside of your corporate walls, and even outside of corporations altogether.
Start to think outside the box of your title, your team, your organization and even your industry.
Why should you build your network outside of your job? Because these people can become your allies and give you objective advice on your career and act as your sounding boards, and because you grow your level of influence and professionalism by knowing and connecting with more professionals who share your vision and values and career goals.
So grow a strong network outside of your job and remember you are not bound by anything! You can develop your network anywhere and in any industry that interests you and also with anyone that you admire and want to learn from.
Start by first looking at all the different ways that you see your career growing?
What are some areas that intrigue you and just “call you” if only to explore and to learn more outside your immediate job and corporation?
Maybe you enjoy project management or sales operations but want to learn about it beyond the way your company handles it?
Maybe you love executive communications but want to learn a new system that another company is exploring? Maybe you love working with people but your company caters to a certain generation and skillset and you want to work with people in different industries?
This process is two-fold:
First, a self-discovery of what really interests you about your current career and then beyond that, a vision of what your career is to become.
Second, a personal growth opportunity where you are pushing yourself outside your comfort walls and going to step into different communities and groups and you might feel some resistance to this change.
Think about what that looks like for you. Draw a mind-map. Do some free-form writing. Come to the answers when you are ready.
The answers to the two questions above will begin the process to help you move up the corporate ladder by showing you where you need to build your network outside your job. It gives you the real answers as to where you need to start “hanging out” so you can find the right people to connect with.
3 Questions to Help You Build Your Network Fast
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself as you start to think about this new network you are building and please don’t limit yourself. This is a time to explore your career options:
What type of work excites and stimulates you the most?
Think about the type of people who do that work. Is it marketing, communications, online social media, health and fitness, the travel industry, the world of fashion and or graphic design design, photography, technology, or application development?
What kind of people are doing this type of work?
Think about the marketers, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, speakers, coaches, photographers, chefs, developers, business owners, investors and many more.
What type of organization or environment do they work in?
Think about small business, medium business, non-profit organization, start-ups, solo entrepreneurship, medical facility, health studio, restaurant, museum, or home office.
The exercises above are a strategy that help you narrow your focus and better understand whom you want to network with and learn from.
And this is a tactic that plays a key role in positioning you well to move up the ladder. This has played a key role in some of my past promotions so I will be talking more about specific ways to use your network after you build it. Sound good?
Best tool to build your network outside your job: Use LinkedIn
The best tool to help you build your network outside your job and even your company is LinkedIn, the ultimate powerhouse for professionals. Don’t mistake it for a resume repository. If you use LinkedIn well, you’ll be surprised with the level of connections you can create. And it’s free. The free version gives you more than you need.
So until Career Strategy #4, set up your LinkedIn profile, and connect with 5 key people whose values and career objectives align with yours. Remember, they must be outside of your job and your company.
That’s it for this strategy! You will have your next exclusive tip in your Inbox soon.
Talk to you in the next strategy,
Questions? Click here to contact me.
If you made it here from Twitter or Google or a link from a friend, why not go ahead and get the whole package? This is part of Career Success Strategies for Advancing and Getting Promoted at Your Job, an email course on the fundamentals of what it takes to get ahead, get noticed, get promoted, and get rewards and raises at your job.
Find out more about the free course and sign up here.