When it comes to looking for new opportunities within your company or organization, it really comes down to two things - who knows you and who knows what you are capable of. In other words, it comes down to exposure.
So here is my list of things to consider when you are planning to make changes within your organization - whether it's a lateral move or climbing to the next level.
1. Vertical relationship building - this is typically what most people think of to build relationship and network inside their organization. This would be with your direct manager, your manager's manager, your team and your internal customers (think those that you interact with from different departments in the course of your work).
These are very important relationships to build. Having exposure to your boss's boss is critical to having consideration and exposure beyond your work unit. Ask to have your manager's manager sit in on a quarterly review or in the occasional team meeting. It's also great to hear from her/him about their priorities and how the group is trending to those priorities.
Many stop here, but there's so much more to building relationships at multiple levels....
2. Across the organization - Now it's time to consider the strength and breadth of your working relationships across the organization or horizontally aligned to your department or work group.
What are the other lines of business? Who else do you interact with as a part of a process or the work you do? Who leads those departments? Who can you reach out to to better understand their role in the process? Are there any initiatives or cross-departmental projects that you can be involved with?
3. Influencers - This is often an un-tapped area of potential.
Who are the influencers in your organization? You may think that any manager, director, VP is an influencer. On one level this is the case, but if you look deeper you'll notice that there are people these Leaders go to when they have to make a decision or when they are dealing with challenges.
Who is often meeting with the Leaders in your organization? Who does your boss or your boss two levels up tend to seek out when they are evaluating things? Whose opinions do they frequently seek out?
If you are drawing a blank thinking about these things, don't worry. This is very subtle and if you've never thought of it before, it can go un-noticed. But, now you know what to watch for, keep your eyes open and notice who gets consulted (formally or informally) frequently or who is often in meetings with Leaders and Executives. Remember: an Influencer doesn't have to have a title. It's someone whose opinion a decision maker seeks prior to making a decision.
Again, find ways to build strong relationships with these individuals who are consulted for their opinion. Why is it they are being consulted? How do they think? What opportunities do you have to work together or discuss current projects or initiatives? How can you become an influencer?
4. Sponsor - Who are your sponsors? This is not like having a mentor.
A sponsor is someone or a few people within the organization that when your name comes up in a meeting you are not in, they are a supporter of yours. They will speak highly of you and promote you when needed eg. People and Organizational reviews that Leaders within HR and the business have each year in larger organizations.
You don't necessarily have to go and ask someone if they are a sponsor, but in thinking about who is in those meetings...who do you truly believe would be a supporter of you and your work?
If you feel you are coming up short on the sponsor end of things, then likely it comes down to exposure. Not enough people know about you and your work. They simply don't know enough about YOU.
By keeping these 4 aspects of relationship building in mind and being intentional about who knows you and what you are capable of within your organization, you are setting yourself up well to make a move.
The best way for people to know you is to have experiences with you that demonstrate your commitment and quality of your work, your ideas and your desire to learn and take on new challenges.
It's important to note that I am not in any way advocating manipulation. This is about having a positive intention for getting to know people, learning and creating good work, and being curious and willing to take on new challenges.
I hope these ideas support you in landing that next opportunity.
NOW is YOUR time.
PS. If you'd like to explore how these ideas can help you in your business or career, I invite you to a complimentary Career/Business Exploration consultation. We'll look at what you'd like from your work, what's standing in your way and your next best step to take to get you closer to your goal. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a complimentary consultation here.
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