Let's Get Political...Political...I Wanna Get Po-lit-ical
The one class that was never offered in college that university curriculums never teach you is social business. There is no teacher telling you how important it is to go to lunch with clients, show appreciation for all of the offerings your boss gives you, showing up to company functions and creating a rapport with your peers. It seems like common sense, but it definitely is not. There are people that make their living purely on their ability to be social and connect people together. Here in Las Vegas, we have The Link which is run by Joel Jarvis - a producer for Kaercher Insurance and friend of mine that has truly shown that networking is more than being social.
It's called office politics. A mentor of mine once said, "You can be the best PR guy in the world, but it's the guy that golfs with his clients that will make the most money." That statement was a very real and very impactful one to me. Ever since I have made an effort to connect with everyone on some level. You can find something in common with everyone in the world because we are all human. We eat, we drink, we bleed, we breathe and we die. If you cannot find one thing to talk to someone about for 5 minutes, then you are making an effort to not be social.
Are you detecting an 80's song title theme in my headings today? Me too. Anyway, I have found that if there is a process to getting to where you want to go that is logical and intuitive but involves follow-through that 75% of people won't do it to completion. What am I trying to say??? I'll give you an example. If you knew that all you had to do to get a promotion was to show an interest in your industry and a desire to learn new things and you were told you had the recources at your disposal, what would you do? I would continue reading books that address "best practices," look into seminars and classrooms, join trade associations and potentially look at getting a Master's Degree. Not everyone thinks that way. Most people will think about it and put it off until their review comes. They will be told that they haven't progressed as quickly as their boss would expect and then they will get discouraged quit and start the process all over again somewhere else. It is a spiral that is hard to get out of but not impossible.
It's Human Nature
I attribute most of it to human nature. Look at the gym. I have continually been on an exercise program for over 10 years without missing a week. Year after year I watch a flood of people take over the gym in January and then about 3/4 drop off by March. It works out great for the gym owner because 100% of them keep their membership and only 25% use it. It is like free money. My dues would be much higher and the gym would be more crowded, so I thank the 75% that don't go.
The mentality of a person that is goal-oriented is logical, for example...I want a body that is in good shape. I have to exercise 3-5 times a week to get the body I want. I go to the gym 3-5 days a week and I see results and I continue to go.
It seems easy. When it comes to putting in the time and energy and people see how much dedication it takes, it becomes easier to give in to excuses and do other things with that time. They know what it takes to achieve the goal but something in them creates a barrier to achieve that goal. What is it? The same thing happens in othere areas of their life. Don't let you get in the way of what you want. Find balance and prioritize based on long term goals. It is all in your mind. A short work out is still a workout and gets you closer to the body you want. Learn something new even if it is just a new word in your industry glossary...it's a step and you moved foward toward your career goals.
Knowledge is Power, Relationships are Money
Whoever said knowledge is power was only half right. Knowledge can get you far, but having relationships with other decision-makers that have rapport with you and respect your knowledge will get you money. Now we are seeing the difference between a job and a career. You put much more of yourself into your career than a "job." I believe that is why it becomes so hard for career professionals to separate themselves from their work. They've become a hybrid of career and life because the two bleed into each other.
Keep the people you've impressed in your career very close. Remember their birthday, anniversary and just remember to pick up the phone and call them. It will go a long way and opportunities that find them will also find you. A phone call means more when there is nothing behind it. Just catch up and don't ask for a favor. Use the 3 to 1 rule. This means have 3 calls about them or just talking and then throw 1 in that asks for a favor. It builds loyalty (read The Loyalty Effect, one of the best books about a secret of economics.)
I Want to Thank You...
The first thing I learned from working for a non-profit was to ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU! It doesn't matter if someone opened the door or gave you a million dollars, say, "Thank you!" Even use a smiley face. People like to feel that their kindness was appreciated. A thank you can go a long way, forgetting to say thank you can kill a relationship.
Be on Time
If it is possible, be on time to appointments. It shows respect for the time that others have. I live by my calendar and successful people may have only minutes to talk to you. If you are late, you wasted their time and trust. It is a small step, but it makes you stand out.
I believe social marketing has become a discipline because as society gets smarter, there are more and more rules and contexts involved with social behavior and it will only get harder. I've managed to watch how behaviors communicate to others and I am very sensitive to how people act versus what they say. An action does speak louder and harder. If I say I really wanted to come to your birthday, but I went to a concert instead...it means I prioritized the concert over celebrating your birthday and no words can change that. Being late says I have no respect for your time. Not going to a work function means that you are not engaged with your company and don't care about the effort put on by your peers.
There is no way around communicating. It happens whether you do something, don't do something, speak, nod, move, don't move. Action means just as much as inaction. Think about how you want to be perceived. Forgiveness is a virtue of humanity so play the percentages and try to be "on" the majority of the time.
Here are a few tips:
- Always say thank you
- Take time to meet people and nurture relationships
- Know more than you did yesterday
- Work toward the goal and do all the steps in between
- Be on time ALWAYS
- Keep your promises no matter what; it builds trust
- Listen, don't just wait for your turn to speak
- Give credit where credit is due
- Take every opportunity you are given to shine
- Compete with yourself and no one else
I'd love to hear if there is anyone that has seen their career turn around due to changing to new philosophies...Please post and I will say, "Thank you!"