Most of us hear the word networking and the first image that pops into our heads, is a room full of people who don’t know one another exchanging business cards. If your palms are getting sweaty and your heart is racing a little thinking about going to an event and meeting a room full of strangers-don’t worry! This episode is about helping you build your internal network…with people you either know directly or aspire to know within your organization.
8 Power Tips to Network Up and Expand Your Circle of Influence
- Boost Your Confidence First: In her Tedx Talk, Kathy Caprino suggests we should write down 20 Facts of what you have done-and don’t hold back. This should be something that you feel really proud about and want to share with others. You will be able to use these 20 ideas in step 2.
- Prepare Before You Ask. If you are getting ready to schedule a one-on-one with a leader, be ready with something to talk about. Think about an idea that would really resonate with that person like a new way to increase results on the show floor, a training technique, a proven marketing technique from outside your industry that you think would work internally.
- Start with Your Immediate Circle. Before leaping forward to the CEO, take some practice steps by asking a senior leader in your division, or who is on your team for a meeting.
- Set Expectations. The higher the leader is within your company the less time they have for meetings so offer a time limit of 15-20 minutes.
- Practice Before You Meet. Write down what you plan to say, and then practice it so that you are able to confidently express your idea. I heard a story about a football player who was asked if their coach was inspirational and that was the reason for their winning season. The player responded that it had nothing to do what the coach said, the team practiced the plays 1,000 times so they became second nature.
- Offer Value During the Meeting. The leader you are meeting with his most likely a lot of pressure to deliver results. If you can turn your idea into a way that will help them they will feel that meeting with you was a good idea-and they may want to meet with you again!
- Show Gratitude. After the meeting, don’t walk away and never take action. The first thing you should do is send a thank you for the idea, with a one sentence recap and most importantly let them know how you are going to take action from the discussion.
- Time to Network Up. You practiced, you met with a leader and you followed up. You are ready to do this process all over again now with someone at an even higher level.
Bonus Tip: If you feel like there is no way for you to reach executive leaders there are two ways things you can do to gain access. The first is to be on a committee where they are sponsor-for example if there is a Diversity and Inclusion group and the executive sponsor is someone you would like to meet, join their committee. The second is to find out their schedule and if they show up at 6:30 AM or stay late-you may need to do the same to have an opportunity to speak with them. An earlier interview with Katie Lewandroski she described how she used both of these tactics and it helped her gain visibility and speak with senior leaders.
Now it is your turn, come up with an idea and share it with a senior leader in your vertical area first. Watch how fast progress will happen, expand your circle of influence and be prepared for great things to happen when you take all the steps to network up. And if you want to turn the volume up on your circle of influence, reach out to me, I love connecting with you!
Reference: Watch the full TEDx referenced with Kathy Capriono
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