Seasoned professionals know that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, where you went to school, with whom you’ve worked, or how much money you’ve made.
You still need to surround yourself with high caliber individuals who reflect your core values, will challenge you to greater heights, and without apology, call you on your stuff.
If you really want to soar professionally, know this: You’ve got to develop a high-impact circle of influence and there are no two ways about it.
1. Discover those who know more and better. You know the saying about being the smartest person in the room? To grow personally and professionally, you must expose yourself to individuals who know more and can cut your learning curve in half or better. To be sure, they won’t be interested in placating you or stroking your fragile ego. Believe me, there’s no shame in admitting your blind spots—everyone has them. You might as well embrace what you don’t know and work strategically to sharpen your proverbial saw. These individuals might be any one of the following: industry or subject matter experts, advisory board members, mentors, or perhaps hearty combinations of them all.
2. Leave your ego at the door. If your goal is to grow, especially with the help of others, leave your ego out of the equation. Expect to receive insight that will help you to challenge the status quo. Expect not to be right. Expect to edit, re-edit, and even completely overhaul ideas and strategies that you deemed perfect. Being overly sensitive to constructive criticism is a surefire way to stunt your growth and make others think twice about whether to work with you. Decide in advance that this will not be a stumbling block for you.
3. Leverage current contacts. A critical and often overlooked resource is the bounty of connections that we already have. Who do you currently know who could be of tremendous value? Perhaps you’d find a few of these hidden gems already embedded in some of your professional organizations, at church, sprinkled throughout your dusty Rolodex and so on. Don’t be shy, but do consider that an already established, solid relationship may offer the perfect foundation for an expanded alliance of this sort.
4. Offer value, too. It may sound counterintuitive, but you must also bring a little something to the table if you want to attract high potentials to your circle of influence. Individuals of this caliber will only invest resources with people who can demonstrate a bona fide commitment to success. Be ready to show that you’ve got some real skin in the game. Additionally, think about what you can offer in return for this kind of relationship. It may be that you’re willing or required to pay for advice in a consultative capacity or that you have valuable skills and experience that could be offered in exchange. Maybe you’re intimately acquainted with someone that could provide a highly valued quid pro quo. You get the picture. The bottom line is not to be primarily focused on what you’re going to get, but also on providing value. Understanding this simple principle is half the battle.
Are you ready to develop a high-impact circle of influence? If so, use these tips to devise a solid strategy for results.
To your success.
Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development services. Follow her on Twitter @wsrapport or visit her website www.wordsmithrapport.com.