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Are you networking in the right rooms?

Are you networking in the right rooms?

Having the right people in our network can help us to up level our income, open up career opportunities and elevate our personal impact and influence.   Some people seem to do this with ease but many of women I speak to either do it poorly or not at all.

We women are generally good at using our networks for friendship but we are not so good at using connections for influence and power, asking for help or positioning ourselves for the next perfect opportunity.

It is time for us to stop waiting for the right connections to land on our doorstep and waiting for the phone to ring. It is time to start taking action. For more on this check out last weeks article “Who’s on your A Team?”

The time you spend creating and nurturing relationships now, will pay off in the long run. Networking is not about the quick wins. It is not about having hundreds of passive connections on Linked In or fleeting conversations of 180 characters or less on twitter. It’s about developing quality relationships with people who, over time will have your back and care about your future.

I was reminded of the power of connections recently at the CBA Women In Focus Conference. Firstly, this was a rich melting pot of power, influence, generosity and warmth. These women cared about the success and growth of everyone else in the room.

The photo below is a representation of just some of the powerful connections that emerged during the conference in previous years; women helping women to grow their careers and their businesses. It is a reminder that there are countless opportunities out there and at the core they are all connected to people.

The best and most exciting opportunities are not being advertised on Seek or in the Saturday papers. They are discovered through having conversations. We must be brave enough to let people know where we are at and what are goals, dreams and aspirations are.

I heard recently that putting yourself out there is a bit like putting your business card out to the universe.   I have seen this in my own work with a stream of opportunities coming my way in recent weeks after a jam packed diary of conferences, courses and breakfast events over the last month or so.

So my question today is “Are you networking in the right rooms?”

Are you attending conferences and events, getting involved in the high profile projects or being part of a committee etc where you get to meet, connect with and form robust genuine relationships with people who will propel your career forward.

You are in the wrong room if there aren’t people who are smarter than you or have the influence to help you achieve your goals and aspirations

Is it time to get into some new rooms? It is through these rooms that you can form powerful new relationships to make things happen for yourself and for other people.

Here are 5 Keys to creating powerful connections

1.  Be strategic. Networking and nurturing relationships take time and energy, something that many women don’t have much to spare. So let’s be strategic about this.

Get clear on where you are heading and types of people who have the power and influence to help you achieve those goals. Although this might sound a little icky or inauthentic for some… I know as women we have the skills and care to think relationship first – business second.

 2.  Pay to play. Networking is an investment in your future. Seek out conferences and trainings where you will not only learn and grow but also where you may meet the types of people who are likely to open new doors for you.

One of the most rewarding elements of the events I run is to see relationships develop throughout the event and to receive emails and phone calls long after the event is over to thank me for introducing them to someone new that has now resulted in securing a new role or opportunity. The generosity of women to help, support and offer up solutions and opportunities always brightens my day!

3.  Up close and personal. We build stronger relationships, more quickly when we meet people in person. We can look people in the eye and see their heart and soul, feel their energy and build a deeper level of trust. It is time to get out from behind your computer and into face to face meetings and events.

4.  Play the long game. Just like dating, good relationships take work and strengthen over time. If you have aspirations of being on boards or want to head down a new career path some time in the future, start to nurture connections now with people who have influence in this area.

5.  Kick fear to the curb. Many women use the excuse of “I don’t have time” when I ask about the strength of their networks but deep down I think it is more closely linked to fear. Fear of rejection, fear of asking for help, fear of not being good enough to do it alone, fear of letting go of their fiercely guarded independence, fear of … insert here any number of unfounded terrors.

Career growth comes from taking bold action, putting yourself out there and being courageous enough to allow your network to support your aspirations.

NEXT STEPS?

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Who’s on your A team?

Who’s on your A team?

Who do you have to hold your hand, believe in you, hold you steady when you slip into moments of self doubt, push you, challenge you, tell you when you are off course, clear the path for you and advocate for you in the right circles?

Our career success has as much to do with the relationships we create as it does with doing great work.

We need other people in our lives if we want to do our best work, to sharpen us, challenge us, help us to see the world in different ways, spark our creativity and innovation and to celebrate the wins.

I have noticed the highly successful leaders I have worked with all have strong networks and relationships that underpin their professional success.

Therese is a great example of this. She is an in-demand senior executive who, within weeks of arriving back in Australia after working in the US for 10 years, assembled her A Team to support her transition, get the word out about the type of work she is looking for and to advocate for her.

This A Team is made up of long time friends and colleagues as well a collection of powerful new connections and partnerships with people who helped her to fast track the process. And fast tracked she did – with a new job offer.

It’s all about relationships.

Too often when we get busy, it is our relationships that suffer. I understand… because I have fallen into this trap too. We prioritise “getting the job done” over building and nurturing relationships. But the time we invest in our relationships will always pay dividends down the track.

And ladies… lets face it, we are hardwired to connect and collaborate. It’s time we reconnected with this super power and put it to good use as we step into having a greater influence at the leadership table.  

Who is on your A Team?

Todd Henry from the Accidental Creative Podcast has identified 3 key types of relationships we all need to nurture.

1. Mirrors

These are the people who are willing to hold up a mirror for you and to tell you the things you don’t want to hear… but need to hear! They will challenge you, push you beyond your comfort zone and expect even more from you than you expect from yourself.

Who do you have in your network who will speak the truth, provide honest feedback because they are genuinely invested in you and want to see you succeed?

My challenge to you today is to find someone who can be your mirror and ask them;

“What’s something that I don’t see and you think could be holding me back.”

You might be surprised by what you find out. It might be a little painful. And it will always be valuable if you choose to listen.

2.  Circles

We all need an inner circle of like-minded confidantes with who we can hang out, have inspiring conversations, bounce ideas around. They lift us up when we are down and dance and sing with us when we achieve great things.

I love my inner circle.

I have a collection of proactive, inspiring, beautifully soulful women in my life who have undoubtedly contributed to many of my proudest achievements and, without them, many of these achievements would feel somewhat hollow. These women have been my sounding board, they have pushed me, held me accountable and most importantly shared a glass or two of bubbles along the way.

3. Guides

These are people who have achieved what you want to achieve. They may be just a few steps ahead or they may be people who have already scaled the mountain you want to climb. They will share with you the shortcuts, guide you on what steps to take and steer you away from the pitfalls that you are not yet able to see.

Over time these people will likely clear the way and open doors for you; advocate for you and shine a light on opportunities that you may not have noticed.

And, most importantly, all relationships are two-way.

As your career progresses think about who you can bring along with you. When you go beyond yourself and help others, it opens you up to new pathways of passion, knowledge and self understanding.

Who can you be a mirror or guide for?

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

Networking isn’t just about events!

Networking isn’t just about events!

When you hear the word networking do you immediately start planning the stunning outfit you’ll wear so you look your best to meet and mingle with really gorgeous super cool people?

Or do you groan and imagine yourself entering a crowded room (feeling awkward and uncomfortable) where you don’t know anyone and you know you’re going to be expected to speak about yourself?

If you shudder at the idea of networking at events, you are definitely not alone.

I recently raised a discussion about networking at the Career by Design (a 1 day workshop for women at a career crossroads) and there was an audible groan around the room.

Most often when we think of networking we evoke an image of a crowded networking event where there is a LOT of talking, plenty of exchanging business cards and the odd promise of staying in touch.

So if you’re not the big event type woman… what are you doing instead?

You know you should be building and nurturing your professional network!

Your next promotion or new position is unlikely to come from Seek or the Saturday papers. Rather it will come from an introduction, recommendation or a friendly heads up from someone within your network. A recruitment consultant I was “networking” with recently suggested that up to 70% of roles are never advertised.

So to tap effectively into this market you need to be well connected with people who know who you are, recognise your unique skills and capabilities and know the types of roles you would be interested in.

Networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships.

Yes … relationships. Not just connections. Relationships.

Building and nurturing your network can be as simple as catching up with people who you already know or who you have been introduced to.

Here are my top tips for networking without ever attending a networking event.

1. Get strategic. As women we are all busy, so preparation is key. Get clear on the outcomes you want from networking. This will vary depending on your career priorities. You may be positioning for a new job or promotion or you may be seeking guidance and support to grow your skills and capabilities.

2. Expand your inner circle. Your professional network is no doubt already filled with riches. It’s time to tap into it and reconnect with some long lost professional acquaintances. Start with people who you have met or worked with in the past. Pick up the phone and say hello or connect with them on LinkedIn.

3. It all happens over coffee. It’s time to step away from you desk and create a face to face connection. Be mindful that time is our most precious resource so be respectful of both yours and theirs. A quick catch up over coffee works or a lunch time walk are my personal favourites.

4. Relationships first. That’s right, relationships first, business second. This is not about bombarding your coffee date with a verbal version of your CV then blurting out a desperate plea for a job or mentoring. Far from it.

 Instead, ask for advice or for a recommendation of who they might be able to introduce you to, to further your career or job hunt. People are usually way more willing to help than we ever expect.

And remember that all great relationships take time and genuine care. They are two way and build on mutual trust and respect. And don’t forget your manners. Show your appreciation by sending a hand written note.

5. Make the time. I know what you’re saying. “Jane I don’t have time.” Yes I know you’re busy but this is important. It’s best to cultivate relationships way before you need them.

I’ve worked with many women who’ve been made redundant and those with the healthiest networks re-entered the workforce much more quickly than those who were starting from scratch.

And at the end of the day ….your network will ultimately enrich your life.

More than anything… life is so much more interesting and enjoyable when we are surrounded by people who we care about.

I am eternally grateful for the amazing women (and a few special men) in my inner circle of professional relationships. They lift me up, challenge me, look out for me, advocate for me. Together we have let off steam and shed a few tears. We’ve celebrated milestones and shared the odd glass of bubbles.

Who’s in your inner circle?

NEXT STEPS?

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston

The Risks Of Ignoring Your Network

The Risks Of Ignoring Your Network

Most of us recognise that having a strong professional network is an important element of achieving our career goals and aspirations. 

But how many of us actually make time to develop, nurture and grow our connections.  It is all too easy to get busy being busy in a rush to get everything on the “to do” list done, while neglecting the benefits that come from truly connecting and sharing with other professionals. 

Research by the McKinsey Leadership Project has found that “People with strong networks and good mentors enjoy more promotions, higher pay, and greater career satisfaction.  They feel a sense of belonging, which makes their lives meaningful.” 

So clearly this is important. 

How strong is your professional network? 

  • Who is in your network?
  • How connected to them are you?  Could you seek out their professional advice or support?
  • Is your network made up of people both within your organization and externally? 
  • Do you have a network of others within your profession to draw on to solve problems?
  • Do you have a mentor or a circle of trusted advisors?  Do you keep in touch?
  • How do you support those within your network?

Building your network is something that you need to work at and prioritise.  Imagine the benefits that would come from putting aside time every month to stay in touch and be available to help others.  You will be rewarded with stronger relationships, solutions to problems, keeping abreast of important information and the joy that comes from being of value to those in your network. 

Then there is the hidden job market that is suddenly available to you through those who know what you are good at and what you want from your career. 

My own networks were an invaluable source of advice, support and connections when I started out in business.  Friends, family and professional colleagues generously helped me to find resources, provided introductions to potential clients and were there for me to celebrate the wins and pick up the pieces when the going got tough.  

The idea of networking fills many with fear and trepidation. The good news is that the strength of your network has less to do with networking and much more about developing relationships.

By focusing on two-way, genuine and mutually beneficial relationships, the idea of building your network will go from being a daunting task to be avoided like the plague, to being a fulfilling, fun diversion from the day to day grind. 

A diverse network of friends, colleagues and associates is key to supporting your professional development and growth and to impact your sense of personal fulfilment.  By ignoring this critical element of your career growth, you will miss out on the potential benefits: inspiration, information, contacts, informal mentors, support, encouragement and potential job opportunities. 

Alone we can be strong… but together we can be stronger.  Surround yourself we people to support and help your growth, clear the pathway for opportunities to emerge and challenge you to strive for even more than you think is possible.

Who are you going to connect with over the next week, remembering that this is as much about what value you can add to them as it is about how they can add value to you?

LET'S CONNECT

Click below to…

Join “Leading Ladies” – a private FREE Facebook group of over 1600 other mid-career professional women to inspire and support
Join the newsletter list for weekly tips and strategies showing you how to ignite your career, lead your way and accelerate your success. 
Watch The Next Level Training to breakthrough to the next level of leadership, impact and recognition.  
Get my best tips on working smarter not harder 
Read my latest blog post.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact my team.

Similar Blog Posts

From doing it all … to…

When you cast your mind back to when you first stepped into a leadership role, it’s possible you remember the feelings of excitement and pride, mixed with fear and trepidation.

What’s required to excel as an effective team member is different to what’s required of us as a leader. It involves a massive behavioural shift which, according to the tenets of Emotional Intelligence, also requires a corresponding shift in self-perception and identity

Jane Benston

My story, amplified

So, how did I come to be a women’s leadership coach?  

Like all good stories, the journey wasn’t all smooth sailing. I help women dig deep from a place not just of expertise but also from experience. I’ve felt that sense of career frustration and resentment. Let me tell you my story… 

Jane Benston

What the Queen taught me about…

As I sat on the couch this week watching the Queens funeral, I was transfixed by the pomp and ceremony of it all. There’s no doubt the Pom’s know how to create a sense of occasion.

Here we were, witnessing history.

Jane Benston