As I work with women at all career levels, I spot patterns. Of course, no pattern is universally true, but most are true enough to pass along to career-minded women—either as a strategy to embrace or a pitfall to avoid.
One tendency I’ve observed over and over: women are usually great at building strong personal relationships, but generally fall short when it comes to forging corporate ones.
I think it comes down to a misguided sense of what it takes to succeed…a sense of “keep my nose to the grindstone, get the job done and I’ll get ahead.” Here’s the REAL truth: if you don’t do your job you’ll get fired…if you do JUST your job, you won’t get promoted.
At our WOMEN Unlimited programs we attack this task-only mental set from day one. All three pillars of our system, mentoring, educating and networking, hit heavy on the importance of forging successful corporate relationships. We help women develop the tools and techniques they need to break free from that nose-to-the-grindstone perspective and seek out relationships that support their career advancement.
In a recent interview with Mediaplanet published July 5, 2013 in the San Francisco Chronicle, I pinpointed five tips for building good mentoring relationships. With a few adaptations, they can be applied to developing just about any career-oriented relationship.
- Be prepared—Be buttoned up before you seek out a relationship. Outline your career goals, identify your key strengths and pinpoint areas of development that will get you to your goals. This step will help you find the right person and then help that person help you.
- Be intentional—Once you have an understanding of what you need from the mentor (or other person who will be helping you succeed) develop a strategy for how you want to work together. This strategy, combined with your development goals, will ensure you identify the right person.
- Assess potential relationships—Potential career-boosting relationships exist within and outside your company. Contact individuals who possess the perspective to support your development and ask them to meet with you. If you or they feel they are not the right person, ask them for other recommendations.
- Be open to learning—Your goal is to learn and gain insights that will boost your career, which often means having your current thinking and strategies challenged. Be receptive to breaking loose from comfortable practices that are holding you back.
- Value these relationships—Say “thank you”. Make sure to let your mentors know how they have helped you. Show your appreciation for their time and insights.
To sum it up, as you progress in your organization, your success depends less on what you do and much more on how you do it…and that’s about people and relationships.
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.