Editor’s Note: Excerpt from the upcoming book, “High-Potentials’ Boot Camp…The Ultimate Playbook For Winning at Work” by Chuck Berke, PhD & executive coach, Berke Associates, Inc.
Most of us go into work each day with good intentions. This is especially true of High Potentials(HP’s). We want to do our job well. We want to contribute to the success of the Enterprise. We focus on the task at hand. We grow good at getting things done. This is the way we become valuable to our bosses and coworkers. Unfortunately, for many, we never get beyond this mind-set and behavioral pattern.
Some folks understand right from the start that there is far more to having a career than just doing your job. These people have relatively steep career trajectories. Unfortunately, most people take an active approach to doing their jobs and a passive approach to managing their careers.
Outstanding careers don’t happen by accident. They happen when we become intentional about what we want and we move in that direction with commitment. We shouldn’t spend all our time on work tasks and hope others will notice. The promotion fairy is very busy and the person down the hall is only too happy to tell everyone about his or her worth leading to them getting the promotion everyone hoped would go to you.
What can you do to ensure you get the opportunities you deserve and desire? Some of the following may sound familiar but they work if you make them a priority and don’t let them get lost in the crush of work.
—Many executive coaches say “By the time you need a network, it’s too late to build one.” You need a network because the higher you go in any organization, the more you need to work with and through others to get things done. A network is also a great strategy for ascending the ranks. The more people you know and who you know, the more opportunities will come your way. The more opportunities that come your way, the more you will be able to showcase your talent and contribute to your organizations success.
—Start by making a list of twenty people you should/would like to know or already know better. Consider starting with the people you already know but want to know better.
—Pick a day, any day, and call it “Connect Tuesday”, for instance. This will be the day you connect with someone on the list. Think about an action trigger to help you meet this commitment, pairing something you routinely do with reaching out. For instance, when you’re having your first cup of coffee, send one of the people on your list an email, call them to introduce yourself or send a relevant article.
—Prepare for this outreach by learning what you can about the person from online sites such as Linked In. Most of the time, it’s best to e-mail first, so you can both put something on your calendars. If the person is local, think about meeting for coffee or lunch. If the person is remote, make a plan to meet when you’re traveling to his/her location. Nothing beats face-to-face engagement.
—Make it clear that you want to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, even if you aren’t sure what that looks like. Opportunity and circumstance will inform the nature of the relationship when the time comes.
—Stay in touch. Set up a system that makes it staying connected a part of your routine. Use birthdays and holidays as an opportunity. Send interesting news items or expert opinion pieces. Build the network AND maintain it!
—Celebrate your success humbly. Who else contributed? Never overstate your contribution. Underplay your part in a successful project but make an effort to let others know you were a part of the win.
—Look for opportunities to join cross-functional teams and committees. This is a great way to become known in an organization. If you’re serious about advancing your career, not only do you need to know a lot of people, but they have to know you and what you can do. This visibility will help your career and allow you to contribute far more.
—Get involved in charitable/community work that your organization does and that is meaningful to you. This help will create positive relationships with your co-workers and superiors on a more personal level.
Above all, carve out time and energy to be proactive about winning at work. You and your career will be happy that you did.