Create Deliberate Relationships

“Bodacious” means to be bold, outstanding, and remarkable. Take those attributes to work and you’re on your way to building a fulfilling, bodacious career. Does having a bodacious career sound exciting to you? It is! After starting as an $8 an hour customer service rep, I rose through the ranks of AOL, accepting four promotions and surviving over six layoffs to become the head of corporate training for 12,000 employees. Along the way I learned I needed to be bodacious to achieve the career I wanted. Out of that experience I created my “cheat sheet” of ten essential Bodacious Career Builders. Here’s number two: Create Deliberate Relationships

Bodacious Career builders know that in today’s business world value lies in relationships. Everything is introduced, evaluated, negotiated, bought, sold, resolved, ended, and enjoyed based on relationships. The technological advancements that have evolved over recent years serve as both metaphors and evidence of our demand for an infinite ability to make connections through computers, modems, phone lines, and air waves, as well as among people in organizations. Even with all this high-tech stuff, it’s still all about people.

What I’m about to say flies in the face of all good girl coding most of us have had embedded in our systems from the day we first heard, “Now play nice. That’s a good girl.” And it might make you so mad that it will cause you to stop reading this article and move on to something else. I certainly hope not.

But in the name of authenticity and full disclosure, I have to tell it like I see it: To build a Bodacious Career, deliberately seek relationships with people according to who they are, who they know, what they do — and what they can do for you.

Sounds horribly selective, doesn’t it? But it isn’t really.

Think of how you’ve created relationships at work in the past. My guess is that more often than not, you’ve created friendships based on those around you who you easily connected with or felt some kinship because of working closely together or having something in common. These approaches are okay, but they don’t do much to increase the quality of the selection.

Your mother always said to choose your friends wisely, right? Now it’s time to do it strategically. Proactively create relationships with people who can support your own growth, who can contribute meaningfully to your journey. Do the same in return.

So what kind of people would be best for building your Bodacious Career? Perhaps it’s someone with a particular kind of experience that you’d like to have. Or, someone with an organizational rank that you want to make sure knows you exist. Maybe it’s an internal or external customer whose performance is linked to yours?

While there are no “right” one-size-fits-all answers, here are a few suggestions of the kinds of people to seek out when creating deliberate relationships:

– People who are in key leadership positions

– Women or men who are successful in your profession or industry

– Women who represent an achievement or personal growth spurt that you would like to experience

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of 2 -3 people, reach out to them. Send an e-mail, call them up, invite them to lunch or coffee, or ask for a phone appointment. Yes, you can do this, even to very successful people!

Make sure you identify what’s in it for them to invest their time with you, be it something emotional like a the positive boost for being recognized and appreciated, or something practical like offering your talents on a project they need done. If you’re able to succinctly and gracefully capture what you have to offer, you’ll get their attention sooner.

Thinking of developing relationships this way may feel awkward at first, but I encourage you to give it a try. You have nothing to lose but the potential of meeting someone who could make a huge difference to your career.

BODACIOUS CAREER BUILDER #2: Decide who in your company or organization could help your career in some way and how you will go about getting to know them.

Copyright (c) 2007 Mary Foley