"Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher." - Oprah Whitney
Oprah, the Queen of Media and one of the most successful people on the planet, is right. The people in your circle significantly impact your life and your career trajectory in a few ways and that is why you must choose the company you keep very carefully.
The Whisper Network
In the past, you have heard me discuss the power of a Whisper Network - that is, a network that brings you opportunities, whether it is for a career opportunity or an introduction.
They are also the people who sing your praises when you are not in the room.
You want to develop a Whisper Network that can benefit you both inside and outside your organization. Whisperers scream your name for advancement opportunities, unlock doors to raise your profiles, and make valuable introductions and recommendations to potential targets and employers. Having a Whisper Network takes time and consistent nurture, and the investment will more than pay for itself.
To create, nurture, and leverage a Whisper Network, you need to start by assessing who is a Whisper or potential Whisper in your current networks. You also should understand if your network needs to recruit more Whispers. By the way, while often Whispers are more senior, that is not always the case.
Whatever the state of your Whisper Network, you then should develop a strategy or methodology to cultivate it. One of the biggest obstacles here is your mindset. Many of us don’t feel worthy of a Whisper Network or believe that we have the connections to create one. You do.
You only need to believe it and take action.
The other mistake that many attorneys make is that they don’t know how to leverage that network or don’t feel comfortable doing it again. Again, this is often mindset keeping you in your comfort zone.
One way to feel more comfortable reaching out is to establish an authentic relationship.
That is where a nurturing strategy helps. A warm Whisper Network often is more receptive to helping you. Though many people will still aid others, they have not heard from in a while.
I want to mention that a Whisper Network does not act in a vacuum. When you are going to them for help, they leverage their capital to make a difference in your career. The Whispers must feel that they are making a sound investment with that capital and that you will hit out of the park whatever you are asking for. This is where having an exceptional professional reputation or profile (otherwise known as your brand) is critical. For your Whisper Network to work for you – you need to be known as a person who can and will deliver.
Your Inner Circle
Research shows that people with more ambitious career-focused friends are more successful. There are a few reasons for this. First, when you are with more ambitious people, you are exposed to different thought leadership, career strategies, and a positive mindset about advancement and what is possible. Having a career-focused inner circle will change how you approach your career and the world.
Second, people are often lazy in their thinking. If they see that you have friends that are lethargic and uninterested in their careers, they will sometimes paint you with that same brush. This can be highly unfair. But not always.
In examining their current relationships, some of my clients had epiphanies. They realized that certain relationships shaped their negative views and attitudes about their managers and companies, as well as advancement. These clients did not have to drop their current friends; they only needed to focus on how the relationships could influence them and manage their mindset and behaviors.
When you look at your inner circle, are they pushing you to be the best you can be, or are they unconsciously keeping you in place?
If they are not lifting you, it is time to expand that circle and look for additional influences that want you to grow and advance. One good place to start is by looking for people who are engaged in professional bars and associations or those who are high-potential or advancing in your organizations and to start building authentic relationships with them.
Remember, relationship building and mindset adjustments take time - so be conscious of your inner voices sabotaging these efforts and focus on your end goals.
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