Explore tactics for creating rapport and building meaningful relationships with peers, stakeholders, senior-level executives, and industry leaders.
- Consider the difference, you choose the basic cable package for your home TV and you get great reception for those six local channels, then you decide to upgrade to the premium package, the second they flip that switch you've got 5,000 channels. Movies, music, interactive apps, the whole works. The boundaries have been removed and you now have access to everything, literally a whole world, information and entertainment.
That's how it works with leaders, they don't box themselves in with the boundaries of their basic contacts. They consistently stretch beyond the usual limits and capture the benefits of a much bigger network. Managers typically remain focused on building high performing teams. Leaders do the same, but they also consciously amplify their commitment to people and relationships beyond that scope. They work to build a broader set of meaningful connections with peers, stakeholders, senior level executives, and colleagues in and out of their industry.
Why is this critical? Having a bigger network allows leaders to radically expand their knowledge levels. It challenges their thinking in unexpected ways, gives them access to important resources they may not otherwise have, and it gives them a broader base of support to help reach their goals. So, here are four ways you can expand your network as a resourceful leader. First, invest the time to make new contacts with people outside of your team, and be strategic about it.
Attend conferences or seminars, participate in industry events. Don't be shy about introducing yourself, speak up and contribute to the conversations. The key is to elevate your visibility beyond the borders of your own organization. Second, develop and nurture your professional relationships, new ones and old ones. Follow up and stay in touch. Comment on their LinkedIn post, send them note of congratulations if they get promoted.
Just make a point to remain on their radar. The more people you stay connected with, the larger your network of knowledge and opportunities. Third, when the time does come to reach out to a contact for assistance or advice, be respectful and gracious. It will go a long way. Be conscientious about their time constraints and other commitments, and if they aren't able to help, don't let that tarnish the relationship. Handling situations professionally will make a positive impression and keep the door open for potential support down the road.
The flip side is also true. When your contacts call you for support, do everything you can to come through. Whatever it is, position yourself as the kind of leader who is dedicated to sharing and giving back. Finally, leverage the wisdom of a trusted advisor. Pursue a relationship with a professional at a higher level, or a colleague who can guide you in advancing your career. You can't overestimate the value of a person who will help you navigate the political waters, make strategic decisions about opportunities, provide candid feedback when needed, and encourage you along the way.
A trusted advisor, someone who genuinely cares about you and your success, can prepare you for leadership like nothing else can. By expanding your network and making relationships a priority, you'll be setting the stage for unparalleled success.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Looking and sounding like a leader
- Increasing your emotional intelligence
- Becoming a thought leader
- Expanding your strategic scope
- Viewing challenges with a fresh lens
- Improving your decision-making skills
- Cultivating conditions for team success
- Building meaningful connections