McDreamy, Mark Bouris, Scott Farquhar, David Beckham.... What do they all have in common? Other than being rather easy on the eye, they are all (or play) people who are experts in a particular field. Ed Sheeran, Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama...I'd argue all of them don't typically fit a 'hot, hunky and handsome' stereotype. But you've got to admit, each of them have something that makes you look twice. Whether it's Ed's voice, Jeff's ambition or Obama's passion, there is something magnetic about their persona. And I admit, I have found an accountant here or there that makes the day pass a little easier. In fact, many of my colleagues and clients have even married people they have worked with! It leads me to draw the following conclusion: being exceptional in a particular field or skill is sexy. Whether it is the humility of the quiet expert, or the blind commitment of the expert unwilling to move on their opinion, there is something charismatic about brains and talent. About capability. What does this tell us about ourselves? It tells us that we highly value capability and expertise. Not only in others, but also in ourselves. Given that we're all high achievers and some of us, perfectionists, you might be nodding at this realisation. Perhaps it's the commitment and discipline required to learn a particular skill, or the conviction to have the courage to stand up and speak your mind with the knowledge it will p!ss some people off. It could even be the lightness of being able to try something new and say 'who cares?' if it fails. Whatever it is, we rate it when we see it. So how do you value your own capability? My guess is that you haven't thought about 'my capability'. You've thought, 'I get good performance reviews, so I must be doing something right.' But you're not thinking, 'ooh, I'm good at what I do...I exude charisma.' That's probably because on a day to day basis you're stressed about things like, 'Why can't my team just talk to each other?', or 'Why don't my peers listen to what I have to say?, or 'How do I get a seat at the decision making table?'. The pressure caused by these challenges gets in the way of any hope of charisma and in fact, start to erode your confidence like a beach in a storm. These questions also identify a gap. A gap that can be filled with the right capability. The most common capabilities that I help women in Finance with include:
• Communication and presentation skills
• Presence and influence
• Strategic thinking and mindset
• Time management
• Business relationships (I call it 'Powerbase')
• Stakeholder engagement
• High performing team leadership
• Leading through change
They do this because they want to progress their careers, perform with purpose and ultimately, deliver results with confidence.
This book title says it all.
It has been said that if you want to marry a ten, you have to be a ten. The same is true for our network of professional relationships. If you want to be associated with top-tier professionals, you have to be one yourself.
Possibly, and that's okay. This "from the future" networking can be scary for many, because it might mean that you might have to reinvent yourself and show up differently than you have been. But what if this was all a test-run for something else? What if your answer to question #1 was the game you're supposed to be playing, the role you're supposed to be doing and this is all just practice?
So....this exercise may feel awkward but when it comes to our mindset about networking, then choosing what type of networking to do and what events to choose to go to, I hope you're feeling far more confident and far greater clarity about those decisions.
Do I ditch my current network?
Absolutely not. Your powerbase should include current and future relationships. Continue to invest and nuture your relationships as they may be the very ones to open the doors to those you've listed in question #2. They are the ones that help you kick your current goals and help boost you now. But be strategic about it - not every relationship is created equal. As a natural people-pleaser, this has been something that has been a challenging one for me to get clear about for myself.
Your powerbase needs to be relevant
On Tuesday evening, we also had an interesting conversation about certain 'influencers'. One of the big takeaways from that discussion was being an 'influencer' doesn't mean you need to be everything for everyone. Same goes with your network. You don't need to go to every event, and have a relationship with every senior exec out there. But make sure you put yourself out there to develop the relationships that you need to amplify your impact now....and in the future.
Who do you need in your corner today?
Who do you need in your corner tomorrow?
How are you going to make that happen?