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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

To Get Ahead, You Need Advocates



Sometimes, we all get in a rut in our careers. We run into a wall, we feel like there’s no way up, or maybe we’re just treading water and feeling stressed out. Whatever the reason, it happens to everyone, and today I want to talk about a super common reason people get backed into this corner: you don’t have enough advocates.


WHY YOU NEED ADVOCATES


It's an unfortunate reality that you can't be present in every room, so you're not always going to be there to speak up for yourself. If you could be in every meeting that concerned you, you'd be able to clearly articulate your value, your goals, and what you bring to the team, but it's just not possible to clone yourself so you can be everywhere all the time. So what you need is a small army of supporters who can be your representative in your company.

If you're trying to do it all by yourself, it's going to be way harder for you to get ahead. I know in my career, even though I worked hard, sometimes the thing that really put me ahead was just having a supporter. I remember once there was an open director position that they were planning on hiring an external candidate, but someone who knew me spoke up and threw my name into the ring. I didn't even know the position was open, but that person speaking up for me got me my first executive level position. That internal network of peers, superiors, and even subordinates who spoke positively about me kept me "at the table" even when I was out of the room.


FINDING THE BEST SUPPORTERS FOR YOU


Who are these people, anyway? They should be folks who have seen you in action and understand why you're valuable and important. They're people who have seen you answer a problem, and you can meet them by building good relationships across your company.


The other day I was visiting a local university and talking to one of the leaders there. We were discussing the work we're going to do to help prepare students to be successful after graduation, and one of the things he mentioned was that students don't graduate understanding how important relationships are to professional success. And it's hard to teach something like that in a university setting, but it hurts graduates when they enter the job market, because if you don't have a network of friends and allies it can be hard to make meaningful change.


BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS


If you've read anything else I've written, you've already heard me mention the importance of building relationships and being liked. It's not just "playing mind games" or trying to win people over to your side for some slimy agenda. Making friends in your organization builds a positive culture for everyone, and getting a coalition of supporters who follow you because they like what you do and what you're about will give you the leverage you need to get unstuck and effect real change.


If you want help stepping your game up and throwing your hat in the ring, let's connect! Sign up for a free consultation, and we can examine some of the ways you can start playing big in your office.

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