At a networking breakfast recently, one of the speakers was a successful woman in an executive role. She kindly shared her insights with the 75 women in the room on the path her career had taken, and the challenges she had faced along the way.
She works in an industry dominated by men, and told tales of being the only woman at the boardroom table on many occasions.
She had many helpful insights on how to move ahead as a woman in a male dominated industry, and the one that stood out for me was when she said, “Women need to watch more sport”.
If, like me, you neither understand nor care about the offside rule in any sport, then you probably think it’s a good time to stop reading this blog and go do something more useful instead.
But don’t go yet! Let me explain what she meant.
The speaker went on to explain about the importance of building relationships with senior people in your organisation, and she used the example of coming in to work on a Monday morning to find all the guys gathered round around the Boss’s desk/office discussing the rugby match on the weekend.
Watching and discussing sport is a bonding activity for men. A former partner of mine used to say, “Football is the great leveller – every man loves to talk about it” (aka soccer for the non-Europeans in the room). And he was right – sport is an easy topic around which men can get to know each other, jibe each other, and generally bond over.
So does that mean you have to run out and buy season tickets for your local rugby team? In my opinion, no. After all, I’d be a fraud if I told you to go and do something I would NEVER do myself.
However, what you can and should learn from this, that men already tend to know, is that building relationships with key, senior people in your organisation will be critical in your future career progression. And the first step in building a relationship is building rapport. There are many ways to build rapport (and I will blog on that separately), but finding common ground on topics you can discuss is generally one of the quickest ways to do that.
Now the great thing is that this applies equally to female bosses as it does male bosses. Perhaps your boss also loves the Arts as well as sport. Or they have a family and love to talk about the kids and what they are doing at school.
Whatever it is, once you establish that common ground, you will find it much easier to initiate conversation, and to start to build a solid relationship, where you can learn to know and trust each other.
In my book, that’s a pretty good start to engaging with the people who can ultimately assist you in your career progression.
Do you have any other insights on how to build relationships with key people in your organisation? If so, leave a comment, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can take ownership of your career to allow you to create a career you love, be rewarded for what you do and take control of your future, you might want to join me for a LIVE and FREE workshop, where I’ll show you exactly how to do just that. Click here to find out more.