I am a student of highly successful people. They have many things in common, but the one I want to talk about today is how successful people always seem to have lots of people working for them — who don’t work for them!
I see it with successful executives.
They build informal teams of people who charge to their aid faster than most people could type an email explaining the situation. If a new opportunity comes up or an urgent crisis needs to be resolved, suddenly people from all over the company are working on it with no hesitation.
I see it with successful sales people.
They can get teams of engineers, sales consultants, legal people, financing people, partners in other companies, all on “their team”, all investing time and energy and working to close a big deal.
I see it in the most effective managers.
Their own team is stretched thin, yet they can seem to effortlessly recruit help from people on other teams, and the people and their managers are OK with it.
I see it in high performing individuals.
They don’t work alone. They get help.
Successful people are successful because they get a lot of help!
It’s not because they are too good to need help.
They get help in the form of ideas, mentors, and advisors, but they also just get help with the work.
Success requires that you have influence and impact more broadly than yourself and your own team. This requires an personal investment in people over time.
How to build a broad network of support:
When people think about building their network, they tend to think mostly about people above them or around them as being the most “valuable” ones to get into their network.
Think about reaching out to people at lower levels in the organization.
If someone above you reached out to you and made a personal connection, you’d be interested at least, maybe even flattered. You might view it as an opportunity to get some visibility. It would be welcome and positive.
So why not do this for others?
It’s way easier to build a strong network below you than above you. Don’t let your ego get in the way. It’s more than worth doing.
Think about connecting with 10 or 20 or 50 people at a lower level.
But you need to make a genuine, personal connection.
Listen to them. Hear their best ideas. They see important stuff that you don’t see, because they are closer to the reality of the work and the customer.
This is a huge opportunity for you to gain an advantage by being more connected with reality than your peers or your competition (because most people don’t bother doing this).
It’s all upside for you. You need their ideas and insights. If you foster this, you will find many of your best ideas will come from this group. If you don’t, you will be limiting your effectiveness.
But if you do this well, when you need help with something, you will have an army of supporters who are motivated to help you.
But to win them over, you need to give them something they value. The basic rule of networking applies:
Always put more value into your network than you take out.
Here are 10 ideas:
There are loads more ways to win people over. Please add your ideas too by leaving a comment.
1. Meet people on purpose. Learn their names. Say hello personally. Show respect. (This goes further than you might think.)
2. Seek input from people. Listen. Say thank you for inputs, even if you don’t use the ideas. If you do use ideas, let people know, and tell them how it worked out.
3. Create opportunities for people to connect with you. Eat lunch with them, spend time in their world. Ride in the car with a sales rep. Spend a few hours on the customer support line.
4. Be a mentor. Be available to give coaching and advice. Be generous.
5. Introduce people to each other.
6. Invite guests to your staff meeting so more people know your goals and your work. Invite a peer and offer for them to bring a team member.
7. Offer to help your peers’ teams when there is an opportunity to add value or help out.
8. Hold brainstorming sessions for your business, and invite people from all over the organization to participate.
9. Start an internal blog. share insights, and encourage ideas and feedback.
10. Give credit where it’s due, or you won’t get help twice.
The fact of the matter is, the more help you get, the more successful you will be.
The more value you put into your network the more you will get out. The more you are open to seeking, accepting and being appreciative of help, the more help you will get.