“If we work hard and mind our own business, we’ll be rewarded.”
That adage may not be true. From a logical perspective, you might believe that hard work and dedication would provide the key to advancement. However, in the business world, including the tech industry, that doesn’t hold true.
I talk a little bit about this in the SIM article, “What This Leadership Expert Learned About Retaining Women in Tech.”
Women often subscribe to the assumption that if they do a job well then naturally they’ll be considered for promotion. However, according to my research and conversations with executives, women need to be more proactive in nurturing their careers and equipping their sponsors if they want to advance.
In my most recent book, Accelerating Your Impact, I discuss the importance of bundling your value. This means aligning your actions, network, and desires to where you desire to go next. In addition to delivering results in your current role, working to be relevant based on where they want to go next.
Three Approaches to Pave Your Professional Path
#1 Grow Your Network
Find opportunities to get out and invest in your network beyond the people you work with each day. Keep in mind; women do a great job of networking across their level, while men do a good job of networking above their level.
#2 Learn About Your Industry
What is new within your industry, who is leading new initiatives or what new technologies or solutions are now available? To increase relevance, you could read articles, join relevant groups, and start a conversation that allows you to stretch your knowledge and access. Especially in areas where you want to expand your impact, you have to understand how you’re going to get there, who’s already there, what do they do, and how you’re going to increase your relevance in that area.
#3 Find a Sponsor
We hear so much about mentors and sponsors as it relates to our career growth. I find sponsors to be instrumental to my career path. Sponsors are people in your network who will leverage their social capital to help you advance. They’ll make a phone call on your behalf, they will send an email for you. They’ll get you at the right table.
In addition to these strategic approaches, letting others know you are interested in new opportunities, roles or advancement is important, too. Make sure your peers and sponsors are aware of your interest in growing with the company. Seek out opportunities to participate in special task forces that will provide you with exposure to other department leaders.
Unfortunately, we can’t assume that just because you work hard, are good at what you do, and are loyal to the company that the “powers that be” will translate that to mean you should be on the fast track for promotion. Keep your name and face in front of those with the ability to help advance your career. Be visible.
Business Leaders – Take Heed – Your Best Candidate May Be In House!
Moreover, this message is also important for business leaders. Before you go outside your company to bring in talent to fill a position, look closely at those within your organization who are already producing. Just because they haven’t expressed a desire to advance, doesn’t mean that wouldn’t make a great addition to your leadership team.
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- The One Thing Women in Business Need to Succeed
- Are Your Best Workers Considering Leaving?
JJ DiGeronimo — the president of Tech Savvy Women — is a speaker, author, and thought leader for women in tech and girls and STEM. Through her work, JJ empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract women in technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
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