It Is Who You SHOULD Know That Is Important

If you were asked to name the three most impressive people you know today, would they have been the same individuals you would have listed last year and probably the same three next year?  What is their key attribute (content knowledge, expertise, experience, interpersonal skills, special skills, contacts etc)?

I was reminded of this question in a discussion with friends about an individual, who has risen to the top echelon of a large global bank. When we tried to pinpoint the “cause” of his success, it was harder to point to one skill or event that dramatically changed his fortunes. Indeed, we concluded that his expertise lay in playing the political game. He continually knew or developed relationships with the “right” people.

My point here is that we make judgments about others that often don’t warrant the accolades we bestow upon themselves. Equally, we make judgments about our own lives that often belie or ignore our own success and the increasing or decreasing interest to others.  This is important because understanding who we are and how we might adapt our “past” (experience, expertise, accomplishments) to transform our employer or the clients of our employer’s “future” (stronger brand, increased sales, improved image) is essential to understanding and articulating our own self-worth. Almost everyone in the corporate arena in mid and large sized organisations has a need to reinvent or recast their worth as their firm’s strategy evolves. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests over 70% of people are so immersed in their own day to day work activities that they don’t reflect on their increasing/decreasing value to others, largely ignore who ideally has a need for that value and how to attract those individuals to them. The consequence is that they hit “unforeseen surprises” during their career (overlooked internally, for a promotion or an interesting work assignment, externally, a client give  or worse, let go from the firm). Yet many of these instances are entirely predictable.

How do you avoid these troubled waters? Give thought to the following:

1.  What are the three most impressive accomplishments, experiences, skills developed or victories and setbacks I have learned from in the past year?

2. Who has the highest need for individuals with those qualities (internally and externally)?

3. Where are they located?

4. What do they read, listen to, watch?

5. Where do they hang out (social gatherings, events, conferences and so on)?

6. How can you meet those people and when you are in their presence, how do you make an effective and enduring connection?

Forget the corporate appraisal process. Think about your answers to these questions and set yourself the task of identifying, building and exploiting these connections. Schedule time in your weekly and monthly calendars. If your three most impressive people you know are the same as last year, and the year before that you might very well find that you have ceased to become an increasing object of interest to the people you should know in your organisation and elsewhere. Don’t allow others to decide your future, do something about it yourself.

©   James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.


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