There is a lot to be said for building connections and developing strategic relationships with executives both inside your current firm and in other organisations. Yet, for many, taking the time to meet people and strengthening relationships can put them way out of their comfort zone.
Change the way you look at your relationships and focus on the strategy behind your connections and help advance your career simultaneously.
Develop Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Relationships are not meant to be one-sided. Regardless of what you may want out of your partnerships, you need to ask questions and find out how you may be able to help the other person. What might they need? It could just be assistance on a project, advice on a particular issue or even sponsorship of an event. Or perhaps they require a third-party connection.
Find out how you can help each other and be the one they turn to when they need a favour or have some time to offer. And vice versa. Practice the art of the ask, and don’t be afraid to use the relationship to your advantage while always keeping their interests in mind. Networking will help you and your career thrive.
Two Heads Are Better Than One
Sometimes struggling alone on an issue can worsen a situation. Harnessing the strength and capabilities of others will enable you to see the problem in a new light and give you multiple solutions that you might not have considered. Learn to be innovative and develop those strategic alliances. Meeting more experienced individuals will help grow your knowledge base and widen your perspective. A shared vision is what it is all about. Be tactical in your approach to get the work done and be open to the possibilities around you as you learn to engage with others openly.
Prepare For Each Meeting
Any time you are heading to an event or a meeting, take a moment to familiarise yourself with the names of the attendees. Who is going to be there? Who might you want to connect with? Jot down a few worthy discussion points or issues you want to raise with everyone you wish to meet. Or arrange to meet individuals for a chat outside of the current event so you have more time to discuss the mutual issues that connect you. Be seen as someone who consistently gets stuff done and has their eye on the goal. Make the conversations authentic and full of real intent. And always try to introduce yourself to at least one person you have never met before.
Yes, everyone is busy, but try to find time for those coffee meetups – even before work if necessary. Be available and continue to show up to make the other parties feel valued. In a time when virtual meetings are taking the lead, in-person meetings are still extremely valuable. Get to know them by asking questions. Find out how they got started in their career.
Relationships are one of the best tools you can develop for career growth, and a good reputation will always precede you. Join professional organisations and use those leadership aspirations to keep on learning and connecting.
Successful individuals are always on the lookout for new bridges.
Vary The Circle
Make sure your circle of contacts is diversified. Not everyone may be relevant to where you are now, but it shouldn’t stop you from making a connection with them if you believe you could have a mutually beneficial relationship in the future. The person you just happen to be chatting with may know of just the right contact that can benefit you right now. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your industry and current circle when making your connections. Join a board or a volunteer organisation to build your credibility. You never know who people are in contact with, so just start as you mean to go on and build those relationships before you need them. LinkedIn is always a good place to start, even just for research purposes and don’t forget to update your profile from time to time to keep it current.
Strategic relationships can provide you with the means to expand beyond your current role and secure a foothold on the next level. They can also open the doors to a new opportunity, whether in your current organisation or a new market. It’s those relationships which allow you entry to places you would not otherwise reach.
Strength in numbers is where you will shine, and collaborative business needs to be at the forefront. While the process of identifying and negotiating strategic relationships can be tough, the advantages certainly outweigh the effort. Want to remain competitive? With strategic relationships in your back pocket, you may start to notice that the crowded field doesn’t look quite so difficult to navigate.
Need help identifying what you can bring to a strategic relationship or in choosing your new partners? Talk to us about our Athena Leadership Academy Strategic Relationships Workshop.
Are you ready to move ahead? Let’s go!