Are You Connecting With the Right People?

Sections of this topic

    Friends, colleagues and family can be great resources for career planning and career advice. But we also need relationships with a variety of individuals and groups to help us succeed.

    For example, we need people who can offer information or expertise; who are influential or can provide political insights; who will give us candid feedback to help us grow; and who can provide the big picture that we need.

    In How Many Networks Do you Have, I suggested developing three distinct ones – your work network, your wisdom network and your “out of the box” network. Now I’m suggesting that you examine relationships within those networks and determine which ones are the most valuable.

    A Relationship Audit

    Assigning your relationships into categories may seem cold and impersonal. Yet, I would say most of us do it intuitively, especially in the workplace. The hard truth is we can’t be everywhere at once. We can’t be all things to all people. Our time and energy are scarce resources so we need to allocate them wisely.

    So we need to conduct a relationship audit. For example, look at your current work network. Who are the people in it and how important are they? Here are three ways to decide on how to manage these relationships to get the most benefit.

    1. Invest: is your strategy for critical relationships that are especially important for getting your job done. These could be good working relationships that you want to maintain, problematic relationships that are so vital you need to give them special attention, or relationships with people on whom can be influential in getting you to the next level

    2. Hold: is strategy for relationships that are fine and don’t need special attention or effort at this time. This doesn’t mean they’re unimportant, just that they’re clicking along fine and you don’t have to invest additional resources in the now.

    3. Divest: is your strategy for relationships that aren’t so critical or important. You may spend less time, less energy or fewer resources. Warning: Be careful. It’s usually better to adopt the hold strategy then to burn bridges. Burning bridges can be appropriate however in cases where there may be legal, ethical or dangerous consequences.

    Once you have identified critical relationships, now it’s time to identify critical gaps – ones that don’t exist but ought to or ones that you need to pay more attention to.

    1. Does your list appear a little sparse for specific kind of relationships? (Internal – up down, sideways) or (external – recruiters, customers, suppliers, professional colleagues?
    2. Do you have relationships with other functions, department, teams or groups important to you? For example, can provide key information, money, political support and so on?
    3. Has there been a change of leadership at the top? How can you get on their radar?
    4. What are you doing to nurture the critical ones you have so that they don’t die on the vine?

    Career Success Tip:

    In this time of change, paying attention to the quality of your interactions and engagement with both external and internal relationships will be a key factor in maintaining and growing your professional career. But remember it’s not just to focus on what you can get but what you can give to each of these strategic relationships.

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?