“I don’t have time to go out for drinks with the guys or play golf so how do I build relationships?” I often get asked this question when I do live presentations.
It is true that once you identify the informal networks of influencers in your workplace, you will find out that they hang out together after work either playing poker, golf, or having drinks. It is also true that many women don’t have the time for these get togethers as they have responsibilities at home. And many women would rather not participate in these types of activities even if they had the time.
So the question is: How do you build relationships with the men in your organization that have power and influence?
The answer is: On your terms!
Don’t use the reason that you can’t play after work as an excuse for not doing what you know is important for your career advancement. There is always more than one way to accomplish your goal of building relationships with key stakeholders.
Once you identify who you need in your power network, schedule at least one meeting per week for coffee or lunch with one contact. Everyone has time to schedule this type of meeting during the week. Meeting one on one is a much more effective way to begin to build relationships than in a group anyway.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with an ambitious agenda for the meeting. Do some homework to gather information about your contact. Observe them in the workplace to see how they communicate and what interests them and write out some preliminary questions that will help you get to know them better.
Always be prepared to talk about your accomplishments and your goals and look for opportunities to help them be more successful based on your value proposition.
The lesson here is that you don’t have to play golf, poker, or go drinking to build important relationships. Don’t use that as an excuse to avoid expanding your network and building credibility with the people who can help you move your career forward.