In yesterday’s post, I shared about how my mentor, who was the EVP of Operations at my company and also my boss, emphasized my need to build my network at the company not only to do my job as her assistant well but also to enhance my future career opportunities.
About a year after I started at the company, the Employee Resource Groups were launched at the company. I attended the kickoff to the Women’s ERG. I’ve always had a heart for helping to empower other women.
I was so excited to be a part of the Women’s ERG, so I joined the Development Pillar to help coordinate events for the group. I started off by volunteering to do things for the events like ordering the food and beverages since that was something that I already did for my job as an executive assistant.
As time progressed, being a part of the development pillar allowed me to get to know the other members of the team. Eventually, I would start to build real relationships with members of the Women’s ERG. And, then the opportunity came to me to step outside of my comfort zone again.
After 6 months of being on the planning team, there was a vacancy for the leader of the development pillar. One co-lead was on maternity leave and the other co-lead was leaving the company.
No one had volunteered to take over leadership.
I shored up my courage and I volunteered. I never saw myself as a leader before. As an introvert, I mostly did work that was fairly solitary. I felt really self-conscious about just taking over a team.
But I decided that my strategy to get more comfortable leading a team would be to meet with each team member individually to find out more about them and how they wanted to participate on the team.
I asked them questions like: what motivated you to join the team? What do you like to do best when it comes to planning and delivering events for the ERG? What do you dislike doing?
After meeting with each of them, my confidence grew because I had a deeper connection to the members of the team. And I felt that they would see me as a leader.
I’m so glad that I took that step to becoming a leader for the Women’s ERG. Being the leader opened up so many doors for me to continue to expand my network at the company. I gained confidence and contributed to making the ERG a great group.
I began to develop a good reputation at the company. Someone who strives to execute the top values of the company.
Because of my reputation, I was able to move from being an executive assistant to being on the product development team. And that is a big deal to me. I believe that it was my reputation that helped to seal the deal when I was interviewing for my current position team.
I encourage each of you to build and maintain a network of people for your career. The benefits of having relationships at work and in your industry are numerous.
So, even if you feel socially awkward or are an introvert like me, there are ways to build new relationships and maintain current ones that will fit your personality. Look for those opportunities to stretch just a little bit outside of your comfort zone. The more that you do, the more doors will be open to you.
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