“85% of our opportunities come from people we know. So, if you want to increase your opportunity pipeline, you need to increase the number of people that you know,” said Alli Young, Entrepreneur and Career Expert.
Between life’s rising costs and complexity, many of us want better options. So, professional growth, whether it’s to build your empire, personal brand or get promoted, can give you greater impact. And better control. But finding growth, as your career progresses, becomes nuanced. It’s no longer just about your skills.
You need a community of strong allies. And you may be wondering if networking is required. Well, it is. But it can be done artfully, authentically, and powerfully. Alli teaches people how to do this at scale. And shares pro-tips for getting to next-level career growth.
If Networking isn’t Working, Change Your Approach
Women are often socialized to be pleasing, humble and even diminutive. Which puts a lot of guardrails around how we open professional doors or walk through them. So, trying to leap towards what’s next, without breaking any social rules, can consume a lot of mental energy.
Alli said, “If networking feels uncomfortable and inauthentic, you’re not doing it right. It very likely means when you need something, you’re extracting from your network in a way that feels transactional.” What are our alternatives?
Proactively Help Others
Alli said, “If you put in lots of time working with, getting to know, and supporting others, then there’s a group of people at the ready when you need something. Because we all need something, many times in our career.” Whenever you volunteer, aren’t you surrounded by other Moms? We love helping so, you probably already have a small army of supporters.
Consider those friends, allies, mentors and former colleagues, part of your circle. And stay connected. She said, “Reach out to ask, ‘how are you doing?’ Or ‘I saw this thing you did, let me know how I can support you.’ It can be that simple.”
To Keep a Warm Audience for Your Asks
Alli explained, “You want to give in to your network before you extract. And a lot of times, we’re extracting only because we feel like networking goes against our nature. So, when we are networking, it doubles down on that inauthentic feeling.” Wise.
She added, “So, it really is about giving first. And when you do that, you’re ready to go when it’s your moment to promote your big thing. It’s authentic. And people are on the sidelines cheering and super excited to support you.”
And Increase your Outreach
How often do you need to network to be effective? Alli has watched thousands of people go through her company’s growth programs. “If you’re happy in your career and you don’t want to make changes, network once a week for 20 to 30 minutes. But if you want to make a change, like a promotion, it’s two or three times a week. Maybe even four.” If that sounds daunting, remember growth involves changing what you’re doing. And building new connections with great people, is gratifying.
No, It Doesn’t Have to be with ‘That Guy’
It’s true, your connections help elevate you. But you don’t need a network filled with CEO’s and celebrities to make progress. Alli explained, “Who you know is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to know that person in the corner office. Many of us aren’t going to know that person or even know how to connect with that guy.”
She added, “But that’s okay because we can open doors for one another. And we can tell you when that guy, in the corner office, has a new role that’s open. What’s important about that role and why you need to apply for it.”
Make it Your Top Priority
Alli said, “Think about your career and every single opportunity you’ve had. Whether it’s a job or an amazing project, it’s often because of someone you know opening that door.” It’s true. She considers the 85% rate that she and her team have experienced, a low estimate.
“It’s those people who give us that job spec, send the recommendation or give insights for the interview. You have to understand, networking is your biggest priority! There is no other activity that we do, that has a higher ROI for our career. Not meetings or status updates with your team, nothing. So, that’s the mind shift.”
Repurpose Your Meeting Time
It’s no secret that too many of the wrong meetings drain productivity and energy. So, why not repurpose some of that time? Alli said, “How many meetings are on your calendar where your video is off and you haven’t said a word? Literally, no one even knows you’re there!”
She added, “You get no credit for being in a meeting when you’re a black box with a name. So, if that is you, don’t go to that meeting! Instead, spend that time meeting other people. And if you do that once a week and maintain those relationships, that’s 52 new people cheering for you every single year.”
You can Connect, Even When You’re Tired
Many of us are somewhere on the pandemic burnout spectrum. But even with less capacity, it’s possible to build new connections. Alli said, “Moms are big on texting. ‘How are you doing? How can I help? Is everything good? I thought about you today.’ Dead simple but thoughtful, that’s it.”
Great reminders. She added, “No one has time. But if you want something new in your career or have that itch, and you don’t know what you want yet, then shift your priorities to get there. It is investing more time for sure. But again, take it from time that’s not as impactful in your current role. You don’t want to be in it anymore anyway, right? So, use your time differently.”
Your career is bigger than your employer. It’s about doing more of what you love. While being recognized, feeling energized and compensated well for it! So, take some space to review your calendar for the next few weeks. Build in networking time. Start with friends or LinkedIn, because the how is less important, than making the space.
Many thanks to the talented Alli Young!
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About Alli Young:
After a successful 20-year career in technology, Alli founded The Forem to unlock opportunities for women across disruptive brands and Fortune 1000 organizations. As CEO, Alli oversees all aspects of The Forem, including corporate training and Executive Coaching.
In her last role, Alli led Americas at Turn, a tech company in the middle of a challenging transition and exit. In her most prominent role, Alli led various sales teams over an 11-year tenure at Google, where she focused on strategic partnerships and aligning customer goals with emerging tech solutions, including the development of a global programmatic strategy which drove several billion in revenue. Alli began her career at Yahoo! and went on to lead creative and marketing strategy at both Deutsch and Mediacom.
Throughout Alli’s career, she noticed a pattern — there are unwritten rules that men and corporations have been using for decades that women have not implemented due to lack of exposure and sponsorship, among other things.
Alli spent a year researching career advancement and launched a new curriculum that unlocks upward mobility for women, called the 5 Critical Skills.
These skills are not gender specific, but they are often underutilized by women, and they are critical to navigating leadership within corporate culture. Alli’s unique curriculum is based on her experience at Google and can reach a wide audience via her platform at The Forem. These skills apply to young women starting their careers, all the way up to CEOs seeking board seats. Alli’s personal mission is to move 1M women into leadership by 2030.
The Forem’s Five Critical Skills are taught through talks, live workshops and a career advancement platform, which enhances ongoing learning. These skills can be leveraged at any stage of a career.Tags: Achieving Goals, Career development, Career Development for Moms, Moms Career Growth, professional development