Your friends are probably great, but now that we have your attention – let’s talk about your professional friends. For instance – do you have any? Across every industry, the importance of professional connections remains the same. Whether you work for a trendy tech startup, or for an established corporate giant, it’s always going to be about who you know. The relationships you build throughout your career have the potential to carry you all the way to the top of your field – and faster than with hard skills alone. Think about where you want to be in five years. Now think about where you want to be in ten years – or even twenty years. If at any point in your timeline you see yourself in a position better than your current role, it’s time to think about how you’re going to get there. So if you’re spending your time hiding behind a monitor for 8 hours a day, we have three reasons you should visit the water cooler more often (so to speak). Keep reading for 3 ways building professional relationships can lead to a promotion or better career opportunities.
1. The Trust Factor
Nourishing new relationships with the people around you – specifically in your current position – shows investment. In his article for Forbes, William Arruda explains that those who are more likely to get promoted readily “show their commitment” to their organization, and more specifically to their team. Think about it this way. If you were dating someone, and they didn’t try to get to know you better – would you still date that person? Would you “promote” them to the next level? The same is true for the company you’re working for. In the social world we live in, it’s hard to even be considered for promotion if you don’t have that rapport that comes with intentional relationships in the office. – Especially with your boss! Without getting too personal (nobody’s asking for that), get to know your who you’re working for. Who knows? You might have more in common than you think.
*Bonus point* – Your boss probably knows a thing or two about getting promoted. So if a promotion is what you have your eyes set on, your boss is a great connection to learn from directly. If you find that your direct superior discourages this type of relationship (which happens sometimes) it’s still a good idea to find someone on the level you want to be promoted to in order to develop a mentorship. In Felicity Duffy’s article for Inside Small Business, she explains how a mentorship can be very beneficial with “access to [your mentor’s] networks and connections,” opening up even more opportunities than if you tried to make your connections all on your own.
Aside from your direct boss, it’s good to invest in your relationships throughout the office. If you’re being considered for promotion and a superior in your company asks about you to someone else, do you want their response to be “I don’t really know him too well?” Of course not! The impression you give to those around you doesn’t stop at the interview or after being hired. You never know who you could be impacting just by having a simple conversation with them in the morning while making coffee.
Investing in relationships with the people around you shows that you intend to stay, making you a more appealing choice for promotion when that time rolls around.
2. More Trust = More Responsibility
Similar to the first point, building relationships and gaining the trust of your team and company could give you more opportunities to show off those hard skills you already possess. The relationships you build and maintain will keep you at the forefront of those assigning projects, making it more likely for you to be first-pick to spearhead the next exciting upcoming projects. This is your time to shine – and show that you’re ready for the new responsibilities that come with a promotion.
Back to Arruda’s “Three things all people who get promoted have in common,” if you want to move up, you have to act like it. He suggests even “volunteer[ing] for projects” that challenge you and how the skills you have and plan to use in the event of promotion. Tackling these projects head-first shows the initiative you’re willing to take and gives you an advantage over anyone else being considered for promotion.
The path to more responsibility starts with more trust – which starts with (you guessed it) building professional relationships. Invest in genuine connections with the people around you and a world of opportunity opens up to you.
3. You Can’t Get What You Don’t Ask For
The age-old expression remains true today in the business world. However, it could be intimidating to ask for something if there’s no relationship established. Building professional relationships over-time prior to the time you find best to ask for a promotion can help make you more confident when approaching your hiring manager or your boss. More confidence is ideal in any situation – but asking for a promotion requires an abundance of self-confidence. Give yourself every advantage possible by creating, growing, and maintaining genuine relationships that lead to this conversation.
This may seem like a lot of work (on top of the work you were hired to do), but building relationships should be a small task you focus attention on daily. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built every day. The same is true for the professional connections you invest your time in. We really can’t say it better than Rishi Chowdhury’s concluding statement in “The Importance of Networking,” for Business Insider – “Your net worth is only as good as your network.”
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