The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine, in marketing. She hadn’t been in touch for ages and to be honest I was beginning to wonder whether I had done or said anything to bother her. Terribly habit isn’t it, but hey that’s just the way I am.
Anyway I was chuffed to bits, because she was really upbeat, which made me grin from ear to ear because in the past, work has been really getting her down.
Here she was, telling me all about a brand new business idea she was working on, she told me about how fed up she was of working her butt off for the same company for over ten years ( I nodded in agreement) and how frustrating it was seeing other colleagues who could ‘talk the talk’ to get promotions & pay rises over her (more approval).
I am sure that many of you can identify with this frustration. This particular former colleague of mine is the first to celebrate when someone has good news and we have shared many a success story about friends, so believe me, envy isn’t one of our traits and she has always been a rock for me as I have built my own business despite moves throughout the EU and business knock backs .
What she really resented is the fact that the characters getting the green light were appalling team players, poor communicators (particularly in English) and never ever seemed to be pulling their weight. They would pull out the performance card when it counted then disappear into the land of mediocre, busy networking until their next chance to shine came.
It got me thinking about how women, myself included, are often so hell bent on doing a professional job to maintain our hard earned reputation that we leave ourselves too little time and energy to network. There’s a difference between networking and sucking up to people, including your bosses. Personally I think bosses that recognise who the real assets are in a department are rare at best, which is a shame but what can you do? But let’s face it, most want to keep their heads down, keep their hands clean and keep the sensitive and argumentative trouble makers happy, anything for an easy life right?
Networking helps you to see beyond your workplace, make contacts and it is life long learning that keeps us fresh and in touch but we have to MAKE time to do it. It’s tough if you are already balancing work and a family but it is really important to plan networking and professional development into your schedule to take control of your own career.
For years I have to confess that I have done far too little in the way of training. As a freelancer I either didn’t have the cash or the time. I am learning all the time and read loads but 2014 was the year that I started to network more and go on courses to boost my business – I loved it! I had forgotten how inspiring and energising it is to be surrounded by other experts and I have already allocated more of my budget to training this year. I’ll be dedicating more time to my sadly neglected XING account too. Keep me accountable please.
So if you also have a boss who is one of those spineless people pleasers who has too little character to tell the backslappers how it is and instead just says what each employee wants to hear, then let’s face it, there is no point in sticking around is there? If you deserve better, then start planning today, what do you need to do to get from where you are now to the next stage of a career that makes you wake up with a will to work, rather than the urge to put the duvet over your head.
After 12 years, my marketing pal was exhausted and they have just lost one of the best employeees that they probably ever had and yet they’ll probably only realise this in a couple of months time. That’s when they will find out the hard way just how much she was handling often far more professionally than her colleagues, without shouting about it. If you have someone amazing on your team like this what can you do to help her find career success without leaving?
Networking is like moving to a desk next to the window, you see more of the world around you and more people see you.
Looking beyond your own organisation gives you more options and the light to make opportunities for yourself rather than depending on your superiors. Put yourself first for a change and make sure that 10-20% of your week is dedicated to networking or professional development.
Remember that most careers excel once you go international, so just because you’ll have to type or speak in English to get in touch with someone from a conference that you met or another contact, which admittedly might well take more time, do it. Think back to the last time you spoke, remember their facial expressions, their body language, their jokes, their quirky English – basically, you should remember how much you enjoyed talking to them and take a step outside of your comfort zone, and get in touch. Start TODAY and do it every day in 2015, a call is better than an email, but even a message takes just a matter of minutes and could make a huge difference to your career. When they hear your voice or see your message, the last thing they’ll think about is your language skills. Make it a habit, a daily escape into the world of someone else in the industry.
If you don’t look after your network, who will?