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Simple, Effective Tips to Get Ahead

“Getting ahead” is simple: People prefer doing business with people they know

You’ve heard the phrase a million times: “Get ahead.” But how? And why? And what exactly does it mean to get ahead?

According to Michelle Tillis Lederman, who presented Forté’s January Women Lead webinar, “Get Known, Get Connected, Get Ahead,” it can mean “making progress in fewer steps, being recognized, being respected, getting promoted, getting business or closing the sale.” In short, “getting ahead” means achieving a career goal successfully, and Lederman suggests the most effective way to do that is through relationships.

Relationships matter. Lederman said that 90 percent of upper level jobs come from networking and that people with active mentors are 70 percent more likely to get promoted within one year.  Close friendships at work can predict happiness and productivity, which impact the ability to get ahead.

The bottom line, she said, is “people would rather do business with people they know” and “relationships will win,” even when a better deal or price is available.

A shift in thinking about networking

A misconception about networking is that it is all “business talk” for the purpose of reaching immediate goals. But Lederman says the greater value comes in “finding commonalities and shared interests,” which is essential to shift from a short-term to a long-term approach to developing relationships. Lederman suggests thinking of networking as a two-way street in which both parties can mutually help each other in the long-term as new needs arise.

Types of relationships to cultivate

Here are three types of relationships that can make a difference in your career:

Mentors and followers

Mentors work in the same industry or company, and they can pass down hard-won wisdom or guidance because they are further along in their careers. Followers want to work with or for you, and their support is critical to gain influence.

Tip: Mentorship is not a one-way relationship. People like to share knowledge, and they benefit from hearing about others’ experiences, too.
Don’t always look up the ladder, but look down, too.

Champions and cheerleaders

Champions should be internal to your organization and have influence to advocate for you during critical moments such as promotion discussions. Cheerleaders offer encouragement and can be a friend, parent or child.

Tip: Expand your internal network of champions. If you tie yourself to one manager, you may not receive sufficient support during important career moments.

Sounding boards and confidants

These trusted relationships – essential to safely share thoughts and feelings – can be internal or external to your company, but they should have some insight into your role.

Tip: Internal politics can be tricky so choose a sounding board or confidant carefully to ensure trustworthiness.

Key to attraction: Positive mood memory

To develop these key relationships, Lederman recommends a concept called “mood memory.” “People remember how you make them feel more than they remember what you say,” she said. People who create mood memory in others often find that others want to be around them.

Tips for creating positive mood memory:

  • Appreciate or admire someone. Little moments can make someone’s day.
  • It feels good when someone requests your expertise so ask others for advice, too.
  • Be attentive and turn off the cell phone! “Very few things should take precedence over the person you are with,” said Lederman.
  • Give someone credit, provide them with information, or make an introduction. Giving to someone else is the single most important way to create mood memory.

Parting tips

Lederman closed the session with some parting tips, which serve as simple reminders as you “get ahead”:

  • Sometimes relationships take a while to develop. There is not always a connection the first time you meet so be patient.
  • Be curious. Ask others what they’re working on and how you can help or find shared interests.
  • When you give, don’t forget to ask, too. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. And make sure your question enables a simple response.

Experience the full benefit of Michelle Tillis Lederman’s presentation by watching the webinar today. A full library of previous Forté webinars are available to Premium Access Pass members. For $50/year, Access Pass members receive exclusive invitations to Women Lead webinars and in-person Women Lead events. Access Pass members also have exclusive use of the Forté Job Center; you can browse positions and post your resumé to be seen by leading companies seeking top talent

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