networks

Find your sweet spot for effective and strategic networking

If you are like many people, the thought of heading out to networking events gives you the heebie jeebies.  It's far easier to find great reasons not to go! 

  • "I've got too much work"
  • "I need to pick up the kids"
  • "I'm tired/it's raining/it's cold"
  • "I don't drink and networking events always involve alcohol"
  • "I just stand in the corner and feel stupid anyway"
  • "I'm one of the only women and feel uncomfortable"- or perhaps
  • "I've been to lots of women's only functions but the quality of the networking is not at the right level for my career"

I hear you.  Finding the right time, the right place, the right audience and the right network can be challenging.

But don't let that stop you.

Research tells us that those who have great networks are the ones getting ahead far easier.  

You might remember last month me sharing Shawn Achor's recent research on the benefits of attending Womens Conferences - where attending (and implementing)

  • Doubled your chances of getting a promotion and
  • Tripled your chances of receiving a raise of 10% or more.

I personally also recommend mixed gender networking events in the mix, because as someone who has hosted more conferences that most people have had hot dinners, I've witnessed heaps of manoeuvring, partnership creation and opportunities opening up for attendees who got out of their comfort zone and networked. Bold, hairy, audacious moves to the rescue! 
 

But wait, there's more!
 

Just last week, HBR published an article that stated that CEOs with diverse networks create higher firm value.

"Diversely networked CEOs generated an approximately sixteenfold firm market value increase relative to their compensation." ~ HBR, April 2010

Yes that's right. Diverse networks - breadth, not necessarily depth. 

Put that together with what is already well known - that "firms with better-connected CEOs can obtain cheaper financing, and firms with well-connected board directors see better performance"and you begin to see that networking is not just great for you and your career, it's also great for the divisions you lead and the organisations you work for.
 

Picture this ....


At one end of the networking spectrum there is Nigella No-friends. She's busy. Give Nigella something to do, and she does it. Well! 

Nigella is incredibly conscientious, diligent, works hard, and pushes the proverbial uphill. She is reliable and available - and doesn't have time or energy to invest in strategic networking.

Then at the other end of the spectrum is Garry (name changed to protect the innocent).

Now Garry is the CFO of an ASX listed organisation and I affectionately name him Gantt Chart Garry. Because he takes the notion of strategic networking to a whole next level by running a Gantt Chart on his professional networking activity. Not only does he schedule his activity over several years but he also ranks his network on their net worth, how helpful they have been, and tracking where and when he last saw them, what was discussed and how helpful they may be in the future.

Oh my.

Yes he exists.

And yes, he is incredibly successful in his career.

And if the research on the value of strategic networking is true, then he is also incredibly valuable in the C-suite of the organisations he works for. This approach helps him deliver better results.

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Networking counts


Now I'm not saying for a minute that we all need to go out and set up a CRM or Gantt Chart for our networking strategy. 

There's probably not a lot of room in that approach for emotional intelligence, intuition and ad hoc encounters.

But somewhere in between Nigella and Garry, there is a strategy or plan that's right for you. 

A sweet spot that enables you to balance a heavy workload, family obligations, your career and leadership aspirations along with your discomfort with networking.

And ... that's why I love LinkedIn so much. But that's a story for another day! 

► So what helpful tactics have you found to get out of your comfort zone help you network more effectively? 
► Drop me an email and let me know what works for you. Because your ideas might be just the thing that help someone else springboard more effectively in the future!

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Five Key Components for Getting Ahead Faster

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Frequently people go about their careers by leaving things up to luck, waiting for “the universe” or relying on someone noticing you. We forget that by taking an active participatory role we get some say in how our working life turns out. Given that we spend a whole heap of time at work, in work environments and with work colleagues – I’d say that having a say in what that looks like is pretty important. And with almost 40% of people citing that they want to start their own business, it would appear that mot people understand this at some level, but don’t really know how to execute these sorts of choices and freedoms with their current employer.  

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work, is to love what you do.
— Steve Jobs

So to help you get started here are five essential components of your career strategy that we talk about at The Ambition Revolution.

1.    Work on your career, not simply in it

Just like with great leadership and working on a business, not in it,  you’ll be rewarded far more and get to where you want to go much faster if you spend time working on your career, not simply in it. This means spending time setting goals and creating plans.

"If you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there?"

Be clear about what you want, where you want to be and by when. Then spend time reflecting on what it will feel like when you get there. Perhaps you’re in a career that you did your undergraduate degree in years ago. Or perhaps you landed a role back when the economic climate was less favourable and it became comfortable over time.  Since then you’ve realised it doesn’t actually fire you up and you’ve been yearning for work that was meaningful. Time to start planning.

Setting the goals and planning strategy means you have to be clear about what’s important to you about work and then put some frameworks around it.

As women in the workforce we frequently put our needs, desires and wants second so this can be challenging. We might be biding our time waiting for kids to leave school, the husband’s fast track career or business idea to come to fruition, or perhaps family obligations.  Strategy can be planned while you are waiting.  And having a plan brings you one step closer to execution phase. Start planning now.

 

2. Boost self belief and confidence in advance

According to Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Confidence Gap article published in the Atlantic, success correlates just as closely (if not more so) to confidence as competence. Women on the other hand have for years been socialised to do the right thing and are more likely to correlate success with competence.  Given that self belief and confidence are both critical to getting ahead, then why not build confidence boosting systems, processes and critical pathways into your plan

  • How will you remain buoyant when things don’t go exactly to plan?
  • What strategies will you put in place that help you remain steady and confident when you are stressed, tired or worn out? 
  • How will you remain resilient under criticism?  

Get on the front foot and have routines and structures that boost and enhance confidence and self belief firmly in place as preemptive measures.

 

3. Personal productivity - it's the new black hadn't you heard?

This is about establishing routines that keep you agile, confident and focused. We know from research into “fear” that uncertainty and doubt increase anxiety and worry.  On the flipside certainty and clarity (even if it's perceived) help us eliminate worry and anxiety.  So creating structures and routines, tackling big thinking projects in the morning and investing in down time and quiet space to think are all pretty cool ideas that boost productivity.

There are "apps for that", software solutions and systems such as Pomodora technique to name one. There is so much available right now to help you maintain the rage that you are bound to find something that works for you.  Here’s some recent research summarised into 13 ways successful women make the most of their time.

 

4. Right people in your network

Stop trying to be the superhero and doing it all yourself.  Then identify what support you need in your next big career push. Is it accountability? Door opening? Confidence boosting? Technical expertise?  Problem solving? A shoulder to cry on (and yes crying is okay)? Or all of the above?  Identify those in and near your network who can support you in some way – colleagues, family, mentors, coaches, sponsors and champions.  Many of us have the notion we can “pop out of the cake all superheroed up” and we will be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way – and frequently requires time, willpower and support .  

 

5. Sell yourself -  or perhaps more accurately create and sell brand you

Your most important sale in life is to sell yourself to yourself.
— Maxwell Maltz

Have you read Forbes journalist Susannah Breslin's thoughts on selling yourself? Hilarious. This woman truly gets it.  However in a nutshell this selling yourself is really challenging for most people. Most of us are uncomfortable in a sales role selling other products, let alone when the product is brand you. Well I hate to break it to you; everyone is the protagonist in their own movie of their own life. You are just a bit player in someone else’s movie. If you want a leading role you in someone else’s movie you you have to grab their attention! And that means pitching yourself.

·      So what is your expertise?

·      What is it that you bring to a role that others don’t? 

·      So what's the business benefit in what you are creating?

·      Where do you contribute that adds greatest value?

·      What makes you exceptional?

·      What demonstrable measurable outcome is going to come about? 

And then rehearse communicating these things out loud with a trusted colleague or mentor until you can hear your now compelling story.

“No matter what job you have in life, your success will be determined 5% by your academic credentials, 15% by your professional experiences and 80% by your communication skills”

 

Because not stepping forward, speaking up or taking charge can keep you feeling stuck and frustrated – draining you both personally and professionally.  This does little justice to you or the organisations/clients you work for. By being more strategic about your career puts you back firmly in the driver’s seat, not only boosting your confidence, but new opportunities will present themselves more effortlessly keeping you feeling more fulfilled about your work and your place in the world.

What components do you have in your strategy?

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

  • My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence. 

  • Call 0425 780 336 or email ablesing@amandablesing.com for an obligation free one on one to see if we suit.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months