And Avoiding A Certain Pitfall That Might Be Working Against You
The key to advancing your career is leveraging your business relationships. It sounds simple enough, but what exactly does that look like? Have you been working on building your business relationships in hopes of moving up the ladder and seeing future success? Maybe your relationships aren’t working for you but against you.
Understanding the difference between a general and professional relationship and how to build and leverage them is crucial in moving your career in the right direction.
Having A Relationship Isn’t Enough
Early in my career, I thought all I needed to do was make small talk and get along with my co-workers and supervisor. I believed those general relationships, built off rapport and collaboration, would be enough to get me where I wanted to be.
We have this false sense of security when we have these types of relationships, thinking that that alone will secure our next promotion or a lead spot on the next big project. We think that when that promotion opens up our boss will remember us just because they know intimate details of our life.
Unfortunately, those general relationships can sometimes do more harm than good. When you begin building a relationship without the foresight of career development, you may give away too much information. It’s never a bad thing to have someone in your corner who cares about you and knows you authentically, but not everyone views relationships the same way. When you are too open with others, you are giving them an opportunity to use the things you share with them against you. You won’t even know it’s happening because it happens behind closed doors in meetings you’ll never be privy to.
So how do we bridge that gap? How can we open ourselves to building a relationship that will serve us in the long run without being too vulnerable?
Protect Your Interests
When you’re at work, you’re creating a frame around yourself. That frame is the lens through which everyone around you views you. You get to decide what goes inside your frame; it’s up to you how much of your personal life your co-workers get to see.
It’s okay to keep work and your personal life separate! You can build meaningful relationships while keeping yourself guarded. If there are times when you feel you can be vulnerable, be sure you can trust the person you’re sharing sensitive information with, as sometimes those intimate details are what backfires.
Everyone Views Relationships Differently
My son is an exceptional athlete and loves playing sports. His team needed an offensive coach and my husband was passed over for the position. Why? It’s not because he wasn’t qualified. It’s not because he didn’t want it. The head coach was worried that if my husband were a coach and gave my son playing time, other parents would view it as nepotism. Of course, this was ridiculous because my son would play based on his skill, but their relationship kept my husband from being able to coach his team.
Now imagine you’re my husband and the head coach is your boss. When we have a relationship that looks very tight to others, it can sometimes damage our opportunities for advancement.
How To Leverage The Right Kind Of Relationship
Building a relationship that will advance your career takes more than small talk over coffee. It may seem like manipulation–leveraging a work relationship–but it’s the exact opposite. The purpose of these types of relationships is to help one another.
When you build a relationship with someone more senior than you, they will leverage your relationship by coming to you to work on projects or perform a specific task. So you need to go to them for what you need, too! Maybe you need an introduction to someone in their circle, require mentorship in a certain area, or are looking for specific skills training.
The key is that it’s not just about friendships, it’s about building a system of connections and resources and then asking and advocating for those things.
This can be as simple as having a weekly meeting where you can ask questions, get feedback, and discuss ideas. You should keep them work-focused instead of just discussing personal topics. Your boss will get to see your potential value, creativity, and your love and desire for the job you’re doing.
At the end of the day, you want your company to succeed and that happens when you, the employee, are trained the way you need to be and acquire the skills needed to advance to the next level.
If you’re feeling stuck in your career or you’re uncertain of what to do next, I’d love to chat with you during an Accelerated Career Clarity Call. Together, we will determine your next best career move.