Building Relationships At Work

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As smart, strategic, and successful as you may be, often times getting things done is all about relationships: who you know, who you work with, who you can trust, and who you can rely on.  Building successful relationships at work is critical to your success. The bottom line is that if people like you and respect you they will be more likely to want to work with you.  If they want to work with you, you will be more likely to get things done. In a nutshell, it comes down to being likeable.

Being “likeable” has seemingly taken on bad connotations in the workplace… that you can’t be powerful or a leader if you are too nice… But being likeable in the workplace has nothing to with being too nice and everything to do with being respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.  And being nice too can’t hurt.

Being likeable doesn’t have to mean that you are always in a good mood, that you don’t have high expectations, that you agree with colleagues 100% of the time.  Perhaps we should re-define likeable in the workplace to be respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.   Likewise, being successful or powerful doesn’t have to mean that you are cold, distant, and aggressive.

And being likeable means that if disagreement does occur, it is less likely to derail progress and goals.

So, the questions become:
How can you balance being likeable with pushing forward on your priorities?
How can you say no or disagree but still be maintain critical relationships in the workplace?
How can you create relationships that further your team and organizational goals?

1. Build your brand
Be aware of, and continue to build your personal brand in the workplace. What are you known for? How would colleagues describe you?  Are you known for building bridges? Being innovative?  Diligent? High level strategist or detail focused? Once you start to understand your current brand (go ahead, ask your colleagues!), you can begin to either tweak, change, or build your brand. Check out this ACS webinar on the subject.  Having a great personal brand in the workplace can create a solid foundation for building relationships.

2.  Check in and reach out
Even if you don’t have a project that interfaces directly with specific colleagues at that moment, chances are you will in the future so keep those relationships alive and well in the mean time. If you see an article that may be of interest to them, pass it along… If they are in the midst of hiring on their team, keep your network in mind… Celebrate their successes even if they have nothing to do with your team… Send them a quick note to say hello.

3.  Use humor as a bridge builder
Diffuse tense situations when appropriate with a bit of humor. Not a stand up comedian? That’s okay… At least be willing to laugh along with those who are!

4.  Have perspective taking skills
We often get so wrapped up in our own projects, priorities, and deadlines that we forget to actually hear and digest what people are saying – both overtly and subtly.  Are they in the midst of a high pressure project? Understaffed? Dealing with personal issues? Who are their key stakeholders and how do they differ from yours? Understanding the various perspectives at the table helps make things feel less personal if there is disagreement. Understand how your role fits in with the overall organization (and in relationship to other teams).

6.  Honesty is the best policy
Instead of beating around the bush with colleagues, give them your perspective up front. If you own your perspective up front and overtly acknowledge the fact that theirs may be slightly different, you move the conversation into compromise and discussion as opposed to defense.

7.  Get to know colleagues outside of work
While everyone is busy and has multiple commitments outside of the office, taking advantage of office social gatherings – whether that is eating lunch together or or going to the occasional happy hour, is important to your relationship building.

8.  Don’t burn bridges
As infuriating as colleagues can be, in a world that is all about who you know it’s never a good idea to burn bridges. Networks among people in an industry and/or employer can be strong – don’t underestimate them.

At the end of the day, you may not always make decisions in the workplace that make everyone happy. Colleagues may disagree with you, they may even adamantly disagree with you. But if your colleagues respect and trust you, it will make it that much easier to swallow.

 

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85% of Jobs Are Found Through Weak Ties

… In other words,  connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching.   LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.

We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist.  A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee.  In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work.  Here are just a few of his insights:

  • Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
  • It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
  • Your resume is currently your job search currency.  John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
  • Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
  • Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.

The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:

1.  Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox.  There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly.  So, why do they matter?   They matter because they tell you (and others)  about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.

2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.”  What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields.  Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard!  Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.

3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn.  Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.

4.  Follow Georgetown University Page Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.

5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research.  See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.

6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network.  New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email.  It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network.  Use them.

7.  Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though.  Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.

8.  Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase).  While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).

7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!

8.  Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile.  Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t.   You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance.  Thanks, LinkedIn!

9.  Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.

So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network.  And do it now.  People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Thank you, John Hill!

GU@SXSW

Georgetown is headed to SXSW. Are you?  4 events are happening for Hoyas – we hope you’ll join us! #GUatSxSW

Georgetown SxSWedu Panel
: Designing the Future University from the Inside
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 
1:30-2:30 PM
Why college? Is the degree doomed? Can universities be unbundled? Higher education is at a critical juncture point. We believe that the decisions we make over the next 2-3 years will determine what Georgetown is going to look like 20-30 years from now.  Our panel will convene “ed” (academic) and “tech” (digital, technology) to discuss how universities can be proactive in their evolution amidst the potential disruptions in higher education. We’ll share how we’re experimenting with ways to deliver a valued education and using a university-wide design challenge to explore the future(s) of the university

Georgetown Reception
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
6-8:30 PM
Malverde at La Condesa: 400 B W 2nd Street, Austin, TX
Join us for cocktails and conversation with education thought-leaders, our senior University leadership, and fellow alumni. Featuring Robert M Groves, Ph.D, Provost, Lisa Davis, Chief Information Officer, Randall Bass, Ph.D, Vice Provost for Education. Space in limited.
RSVP here by February 27
Host: Alex Shoghi, B’04

Redesigning the Future of Georgetown
Friday, March 7th
12-1:30PM
Conjunctured Coworking: 1309 East 7th Street, Austin, TX
Help us imagine the Future of Higher Learning at Georgetown. Dr. Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education, will lead us through a lab exercise modeled on an undergraduate design course to explore issues facing higher education. We will pick a point in the future, define the features of that world, and create a Georgetown that will most effectively produce leaders of industry and society.
Invite-Only. RSVP here to Molly (mkb101@georgetown.edu) by February 28 

Georgetown Meetup
Saturday, March 8, 2014 
1PM
Little Woodrow’s: 520 W 6th Street, Austin, TX
Meet fellow creative, digitally-savvy Hoyas and watch the Hoyas taken on Big East rival Villanova

Exciting News for Hoya Gateway!

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We are excited to announce that the Hoya Gateway program has won a Council for the Advancement & Support of Education (CASE) District II Accolades Award: GOLD for Best Practices in Alumni Relations.  

Hoya Gateway connects Georgetown students and alumni for one-on-one, in person, career related conversations, either mock interview, informational interview, or resume review, with the hopes of preparing students to explore and reach their career goals and aspirations.  The program provides a significant opportunity for alumni to share with students their industry expertise, knowledge, and career advice, and assists students in establishing and building their own professional networks.

Hoya Gateway launched in 5 cities (Chicago, DC, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco) and 13 industries (Finance, Law, Non Profit, Human Resources & Executive Recruiting, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Medicine & Health, Government, and Entertainment & Media).  Hoya Gateway launched in May of 2013 after 1.5 years of incremental pilots. Currently over 650 alumni and over 1100 students have created profiles in Hoya Gateway.  Thank you to all of you who have volunteered your time, energy, and enthusiasm as part of the Hoya Gateway program.

To learn more about Hoya Gateway, contact Whitney Pezza, Associate Director of Alumni Career Services at wcp9@georgetown.edu.

You can also visit hoyagateway.georgetown.edu or find Hoya Gateway on social media:

Collecting No’s

Tonight’s homework: collecting no’s.

First, I must give credit where credit is due.  Joe Scafidi (B’95) casually mentioned the concept of “collecting no’s” when I ran into him an a Hoya networking event. I was immediately and enthusiastically intrigued. In fact, I think I might have scared him with how I reacted to this little exercise. It’s brilliant on so many levels.  It’s a short experiment in human nature and social behavior, but one that has daily implications.

The concept is this: ask people for things. See what they say.  And you’ll probably be surprised how often the answer is yes. Ask a stranger for an umbrella.  A professor for an extension on a deadline. Ask your boss to leave early.  Ask someone for career advice.  The only rules are you can’t ask the same person twice and each ask must be different.  What you typically learn is that very rarely is the answer no and that everything can be a negotiation.  The question is, how many asks do you need to make in order to get 10 no’s? Probably more than you think.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Just ask.  Someone once told me that FEAR stands for “False Expectations About Risk.” Many times we assume the answer is no before we even ask so we don’t even bother.
  • We all want to be liked. Human nature general seeks to please (or at least makes us feel like it’s socially unacceptable to say no).  This works in your favor when you are the one asking, but also provides lessons for those of us who can’t say no to the barrage of requests that abound daily.  The fact is, it’s often easier for people to say yes than to risk conflict and if the ask is in the future it’s easy to say yes in the present.
  • It’s all about the negotiation.  Things are rarely as black and white as “yes” and “no.” How do you get to the place of “yes” by understanding the needs and wants of the other party?  If you’re really negotiating there isn’t a “winner” or “loser,” you both walk away happy.
  • It’s all in how you ask. How can you ask in a way that makes it even tougher to say no?

And some implications:

  • The good news: When it comes to career networking and reaching out to acquaintances and strangers for advice, this is great news. People will probably say yes more often than they say no.  If there is a mutual connection (friend, alma mater, etc.) I would venture to guess that this increases the likelihood of yes.
  • The bad news: When it comes to our own time management and work/life balance this tendency toward yes works against us.  We over commit and wonder why we are stressed and exhausted.

Let us know how your “collecting no’s” goes!  Tweet us at #GUCollectNos

Mentors Demystified

Mentor. Coach. Advisor. Sponsor. Advocate.
Mentorship programs are great but have their limitations – there is no way to match mentors and mentees based on chemistry, common connections, or values.  An organic mentoring relationship is more realistic for most professionals and, in my opinion, more holistically fruitful. Being your own best advocate to identify and reach out to potential mentors can be intimidating but is critical in amplifying your career success. The mentorship trend is slowly splintering into discussion about not only mentors but the need for coaches, advisors, sponsors, and advocates – each slightly different in definition.  The fact is, we probably need at least one of each and it’s not always our manager.

Here are some tips on finding a mentor. It’s not as difficult, or formal, as it seems!

1.  You don’t need a signed certificate.   They may not even know they are your mentor… And that’s okay… sometimes it’s actually better.  Asking people to be your “mentor” may put them on the spot. It feels formal and like a big commitment even if that isn’t what you’re looking for.

2.  It’s all about relationship building.  Keep them posted on your career highlights.  Send them a thank you note.  Keep them in mind when you come across a book/article/news piece that may be interesting to them.  It’s a two way street so provide them with somevalue as well.   The way you build the relationship speaks to your personal and professional brand and leaves an impression.  I once met with someone (who has since become a mentor) and afterwards sent a thank you note along with a small magnet with an inspirational quote that I felt aligned with my professional values. It’s still in their office 7+ years later.

3. They don’t have to be your best friend… and they may not even be in your industry or organization… but they should have skills/qualities/expertise that interest and inspire you in some way. You may be completely different than you mentor and you may not even have alot in common with them personally.  That’s okay! It doesn’t mean they can’t offer you pearls of wisdom and it doesn’t mean they don’t have qualities you admire or skills you wish to garner.  The person with the career you want is not always going to be the person you want to grab a drink with.

4.  It’s not one size fits all.  Just like your friend that is really fun to go out with but isn’t great when you need relationship advice, you may have mentors for different aspects of your life/career.   For example, one mentor may be helpful in discussing your professional brand, another may be helpful in discussing work/life balance.

5.  Treat them to coffee.  It’s a great way to initiate a conversation that is casual and time limited.  Chances are they are busy so don’t take too much of their time.  Let them know why you want to take them to coffee which can be as simple as the fact that you are interested in hearing about their career path and gathering advice in navigating your own career trajectory. Everyone likes talking about themselves so listen to their story and ask thoughtful questions.  It will also give you a chance to sneak in some personal tidbits about yourself, which will helps them see your depth and increases the likelihood that they will think of you for future opportunities.

6.  Put yourself out there.  It can be intimidating to ask someone 1-2 levels above you for their time but don’t let that stop you.  It’s best if you have some sort of a connection to them prior to reaching out in order to get the ball rolling.  Did you just chat with them at the company holiday party?  Did they go to the same undergrad institution? Do your research before the meeting, identify questions to ask and what you hope to get out of the meeting.  Show enthusiasm, tenacity, respect, and thoughtfulness. No one can argue with enthusiasm, as long as it’s polite!  If you are unsure of what the line is between eagerness and over doing it, get a second opinion from a friend who you think shows professionalism in his/her workplace.

For more information on finding a mentor check out this article from Fast Company.
Learn more about how sponsorship differs from mentorship and why sponsors really need YOU.

Check out our archived webinar on making the most of mentoring.

We want to know: how have mentors shaped your career?

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