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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Hard Work Can’t Get You There

I'm a baby boomer, so growing up I heard the phrase "work hard" constantly. It was taught to me as an instruction that would solve all my issues. If I just kept my head down and worked hard, I could get ahead.

It wasn't until several years into my career that I finally realized that hard work wasn't enough. I'd been feeling so frustrated; I was outworking everyone, and other people were getting ahead. I worked late, I did the extra, and as a woman of color, I knew that was what I had to do. We had to work harder than other people to overcome the obstacles holding us back.

My entire professional foundation was resting on hard work, and it took a colleague of mine giving me a piece of advice that has helped me tremendously change things. He told me, "Linda, you have to make connections." I didn't get what he meant at first. What did he mean, connections?' I was at work, not a Tony Robbins convention. But thank goodness he told me that because as I kept working hard, I started thinking about what he'd said, and slowly I started to notice something.

I was hitting all my work goals and nailing home runs on my projects, but I wasn't making friends. I wasn't building a network. When I wasn't in the room, there was nobody there to advocate for me or toss my name out for consideration on a project. I wasn't generating the human relationships that are foundational to being a good leader and being a good team member.

Connecting not only at work, but in all areas of your life, is essential to becoming the person who gets that seat at the table. Forging strong, joyful connections in your work in addition to putting in the extra effort was what really helped me get ahead.

Now, let me be clear here, just like hard work won't get you all the way there, schmoozing and trying to get by just on relationships won't work either. It takes both a supportive network and hard work to get ahead. You're building your professional foundation, and you need to be showing up with strength in both areas of your life.

So the next time you think about skipping that virtual happy hour, think twice. These moments are opportunities to strengthen your career and make friends with your team, and that kind of win-win relationship is what you need to take your career to the next level.

Nurture your work effort and nurture your social network to show up with a strong professional foundation that will get you that seat at the table. I promise you, if you take the time to develop both sides, things will start to happen.

If you need help developing a specific strategy for your situation, let's connect. Click here to get a consultation with me on your calendar, and we can come up with a game plan for you and your professional journey.

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