Confidence is all about deciding that you’re going to take control of the steering wheel of your future and drive into it. Instead of the backseat passengers of doubt, fear, and uncertainty controlling you, you’re going to control and take charge of your future.
One way you can do that is by finding a sponsor.
Sponsorship is finding a person who will wear your brand t-shirt inside of a company unbeknownst to you. They are promoting you even when you don’t know about it, and then all of the sudden you’ll get the tap on the shoulder; you’ll get the invitation to take the next step in your career.
It’s important to understand the difference between a sponsor and a mentor. A mentor is someone who will tell you what they’ve done to move their career forward. A sponsor isn’t looking to have coffee with you; they just believe in your work, and they just want to help you get ahead. They don’t want anything in return.
Leveraging a Sponsor’s Influence
Find a way to celebrate what your sponsor is doing. Add value. For example, I ran into an executive on an elevator one day, and I had just read something about what that person had accomplished. I said to him, “This is amazing!”
He didn’t know me from Adam, but I knew everything about him. In just that 30 seconds on the elevator, I said, “Here are three quick reasons why this is so awesome.” Afterward, I received a follow-up note from him saying, “Great talking to you on the elevator. Get some time on my calendar. I’d like to get to know you better.”
Then when I met with him face-to-face, he asked me if there was anything he could do to help me, and I said, “Yes. I’m working on this, this, and this.” And he said, “Oh, let me make a phone call.” It would have never happened if I hadn’t have taken that opportunity on the elevator to connect.
Arrive at meetings 15 minutes in advance. I know that in some cultures, it’s the 5 minute grace period. No. The real meeting starts 15 minutes before. That’s when you get to find out what other people are doing, especially if the meeting is being led by a director or other senior leader in the room. They begin to notice that you’re just a step above the rest. You show up early. You’re ready. You connect with people before the meeting.
Understand how you connect, not just communicate. Some of you might be thinking, “I hate small talk!” Here’s how you do it: 1) find out what makes the person tick, 2) see where you have a commonality (connect with them on a personal level), 3) what is it that has made them successful at the company and 4) ask them about their projects. Build a bridge from where they are to where you are to connect.
I’m here to tell you: relationships are the currency of the future, and relationships are built in the small conversations, the connection. People will often decide in 5-7 seconds if they know, like and trust you.
Want to learn more from Simon T. Bailey? Join him at our Annual Leadership Development Conference to be held from March 4 – 7 in Dallas, TX and learn how to Break Through!