Kathy and Miguel work for a mid-sized manufacturing company. Kathy works in Organizational Development, while Miguel is in finance. Both have worked at the company for about five years and have worked together on various projects over time. They have formed a good working relationship. There have been times when Kathy needed a custom report run to get data for budgeting or a project analysis and reached out to Miguel for a quick turnaround. Conversely, Miguel has needed to know about the background and personalities of some of the leaders he was presenting to. Kathy was able to share her insights and experiences so that Miguel could be better prepared for the meeting.
No one succeeds in their career on their own. Not only do you need mentors and sponsors to help pull you up in your career, but you need allies to support you along the way.
Allies can be peers, subordinates or may be senior to you. They may be inside of your company, part of a professional association outside of the company or even someone you worked with in the past.
Like Kathy and Miguel, you’ll find yourself in need of someone in another part of the company to help with a project. You may need a favor in a pinch or another perspective on the political landscape of a situation you’re dealing with. To help you in these situations, you’ll need allies with whom you have informal working relationships. Allies are willing to pitch in when you need them. You won’t be successful without them.
The purpose of an alliance is to help each other. Like other relationships in your network, your ally relationships are two-way. Allies are earned. You earn an ally by being an ally first.
So how do you identify potential allies and earn their friendship? These 10 tips will help you build your network:
- Identify other professionals with whom you’ve worked and seem to have good camaraderie.
- Make professional and personal connections to get to know others in your network better. Be genuine.
- Be proactive in reaching out to offer help with something, even before someone asks you.
- Don’t expect anything in return. Allies don’t owe each other. Opportunities will naturally arise to help each other.
- Be gracious when an ally asks for your help. However, don’t feel obligated to their request. Be honest about what you are able to do.
- Demonstrate integrity. Be honest, trustworthy, and follow through on what you say you will do.
- Hold discussions you’ve had in confidence. Never gossip about anyone to anyone at anytime.
- Communicate and seek to gain clarity on understanding each other. Stay in touch during times when you don’t need anything.
- Be considerate of what you ask. Don’t put an ally in an awkward or sensitive position.
- Be grateful. Thank allies for their partnership and even the little things they do for you.
Who would you consider your allies to be? Have you been as intentional about these relationships as you should be?
Allies are among the most important relationships in your career. Treat them as such. Your career success and your personal experience and satisfaction at work will make every day richer as a result.