How to Create Relationships that Build Your Network

Pictured: 2 hands, a pen, and a card that reads: "Thank you for meeting with me today."

How to Create Relationships that Build Your Network

December 5, 2022

Pictured: 2 hands, a pen, and a card that reads: "Thank you for meeting with me today."A common trend with networking is the lack of follow-up. We connect with people on LinkedIn, during networking events, or at conferences, and then months go by without any additional interaction. Over time, we forget where we met the person, they forget about us, and then we never reconnect.

Building, following up, and staying connected to your network takes time and effort. If you don’t make the effort to stay in touch with a new person that you just met, your connection with that person was merely a transaction, not the beginning of a relationship. That means you’re missing the opportunity to add them to your network.

It also means you’re wasting your time! All that networking effort goes to waste when you don’t do the follow-up work to build a relationship with them.

The power of your network and its usefulness is based on the strength of your relationships with the people you know.

The whole point of meeting people and getting to know them is so that you can strengthen your network. When you do this, you increase the number of people you can turn to when you need help, be it with your job search, going for your next promotion, or support for a project you’re working on.

But just meeting a person once and not talking to them again is not enough. That’s just a transactional exchange and it doesn’t add them to your network.

To add someone to your network, you need to connect and communicate with them multiple times. This means following up, scheduling another time to talk, meeting up with them again at another event, and so on.

Your main driver might be to get to know the other person better because you anticipate asking them to help you in the future. However, the focus should be on helping them.

Building lasting relationships within your network is all about the other person, not about you.

It’s when you help other people that you build the true bedrock of your relationship.

Maya Angelou said, “…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When you build a relationship with the people in your network so that you can help them, you make them feel supported and safe. They, in turn, will be there for you when you need them.

Perhaps this goes without saying but I want to be clear that this doesn’t apply to every interaction. Not everyone you meet will be a good fit, and that one-time interaction may be enough.

But for many of the people you meet along the way, it will serve you to move beyond the initial meet up and build a relationship with them.

How do to move an encounter from a simple transactional experience to a network-building relationship?

I mentioned at the beginning that it’s a common trend to not follow up after meeting someone for the first time. It’s too bad this is the case, because following up is a great place to begin!

After meeting someone for the first time, if you feel like they are someone who would be a great addition to your network or think you may be helpful to them in some way, follow up your initial meeting with an email or, better, a hand-written card.

It need only include a statement or two, saying that it was nice to meet them and proposing a next time to connect. If you met at a networking event, you could suggest that you make a point to cross paths at the next event. Or if you’d like to have a more focused opportunity to talk with them, consider meeting over coffee.

If you’re going to put out the effort to meet people and build your network, don’t waste your time by only meeting people once and leaving the rest to chance. Put in a little more effort; follow up with them and schedule your next meetup. This will help you build a strong network full of people that you know and can rely on, because they know they can rely on you.

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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Giving thanks? Don’t forget your network!

Pictured: cofee pen and card with the message, "I am so grateful for you."

Giving thanks? Don’t forget your network!

November 21, 2022

Pictured: cofee pen and card with the message, "I am so grateful for you."One of the keys to building a strong and broad professional network that people often miss is expressing gratitude.

As I write this, we’re approaching Thanksgiving. While most of us start to think about what we have to be thankful for in our lives and in our work, I think it’s easy to forget that we also need be thankful for our network.

The people in our network are important! They can help us find a new job, advance our career, and solve a problem we’re working on. We, in turn, can help them with similar challenges, and doing so makes us feel good about ourselves.

It’s important to notice and recognize the impact that our network has on us and that we have on them. And also…

Gratitude can help us strengthen our network connections!

When we recognize the people in our lives and what they’ve done for us, and when we take the time to let them know that we are thankful for them, they feel appreciated. It’s one of many steps you can take to strengthen your relationship with them.

There are some easy ways to express your gratitude, not just during Thanksgiving but all throughout the year.

Here are some ideas that will work well in a note or an email, or in person:

  • “I have been thinking about you and the value you brought to my last job search. Thank you!”
  • “I’m really excited that you taught me ________. Here’s how it helped me: ________. Thank you!”
  • “I really appreciate that we aren’t just colleagues. I consider you a friend and I really value the friendship we’ve built.”

Here are some other things you can do to connect with the people in your network:

  • Send them an article that you think they’d find be helpful. It will tell them that you are thinking about them and that you know what’s important to them.
  • Keep track of their birthday, anniversary, and any other special events. Save them in your calendar so you remember. Then and take the time to acknowledge them with a card, an email, a phone call, or a post via social media.
  • Call or email and say, “I was just thinking about you and wanted to say a quick hello.” Or “I saw ________ and you came to mind. I thought I’d reach out and see how you are doing.”

As you roll into the holidays, don’t forget to be thankful for the people who support you. When you take a moment to express that gratitude, you strengthen your relationship with them. It also reminds you of an important reality: None of us succeed alone. We need each other!

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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Quiet Quitting: What to Do Instead

Pictured: woman at work desk with head in hands

Quiet Quitting: What to Do Instead

September 12, 2022

Pictured: woman at work desk with head in handsHave you heard of the phrase “Quiet Quitting”? It is the latest hot topic in the world of work right now.

Before I get into it, let’s clarify: What does “Quiet Quitting” mean?

It does NOT mean quitting your job quietly, so no one knows that you’re gone!

Quiet Quitting is a behavior that is tied to a belief system.

From a behavior standpoint, it means you stop going above and beyond in your job. You do only what is required and nothing else.

From a belief system standpoint, it means that you’ve decided that your worth is not defined by how productive you are. You have decided that work is not going to be your whole life. It is going to be PART of your life.

If you are considering Quiet Quitting, I suggest you first pause and reflect on your work experiences before you start making any changes. The impact could be significant, so it is important that you first determine what is most important to you at this time in your life and career.

To help you in your consideration, I want to dig into three key aspects of Quiet Quitting that I mentioned above.

#1: What do we mean by going “above and beyond?”

Going above and beyond has a different meaning, depending on the circumstance.

Sometimes, it means going beyond the job description with the potential of being promoted. For example, let’s say you are offered the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities without a pay increase. This gives your manager time to determine if you can do the job well… in other words, you are given the opportunity to prove yourself.

Other times, going “above and beyond” is a requirement of the job. It shows up in the job description as: “extra duties as defined by the supervisor.” This gives your manager the ability to delegate responsibilities that you wouldn’t get if you just work within the parameters of the clearly defined job description. These are growth opportunities!

So, what happens if you are working “above and beyond” to an extreme level and giving more to the company than you are to your personal life? This can cause problems! You become stressed, resentment sets in, your emotional well-being is affected… and then the “quiet quitting” may suddenly make sense to you.

If how you perceive “above and beyond” is different from how your boss sees it, there is a conflict in expectations which needs to be addressed.

What should you do?

Take the time to evaluate two things: (1) What you want and (2) What you are doing.

Is the work you are doing that goes “above and beyond” being recognized with growth opportunities or are you being taken advantage of?

Where do you want to go in the future, and is the work you are doing “above and beyond” going to help you get there?

Before you start “Quiet Quitting,” see if there are ways to address the situation that are less passive aggressive. Talk to your manager. If that doesn’t work, talk to HR. Let them know what your situation is and see if they will work with you to come up with a more productive answer that serves you and them simultaneously.

#2: Your worth is not determined by how productive you are.

Being productive is just one measure of how well you are doing your job.

Measuring how productive you are is less about how much you are accomplishing during defined work hours, and more about the contributions and value you have brought to the organization.

Other ways to measure your worth – or success! – at work include:

  • Positive feedback from your manager
  • Recognition by others
  • Saving the company money
  • Improving processes
  • Doing a great job on a project
  • Leading a team successfully

The challenge here, then, is to get clear about what success looks like in your particular job so that you can get a clearer picture about how well you are doing.

What should you do?

Communicate with your boss about how the company determines your worth as an employee. Beyond being productive, what else do they want to see? When you are on the same page with your boss about their expectations, you’ll be clearer about what growth and advancement looks like, and it will be easier to feel satisfied and valued with that company.

#3: You have decided that work is not going to be your whole life. It is going to be PART of your life

In my experience working in the outplacement field for 20 years, I saw too many employees make work their whole life as they gave up time with their family for the company. I watched them miss their children’s ballgames, recitals, and important family. One day they were fully employed and the next day they were sitting in my office after a layoff and wondering what just. They just gave up so much for a company that didn’t think twice about letting them go.

I completely support not making work your life for that very reason. A company might one day lay you off and you have lost much more than your job. You’ve lost an investment in time and effort that was focused on your growth in a company that no longer wants you. Now what?

What should you do?

Starting right now, find a healthy balance between your work and your life. Set new boundaries for yourself and communicate them to your boss. Take time for lunch and use your vacation time! The company is not paying you to work through lunch or forfeit your vacation. Make sure you are rounding out your life with activities outside of work so that if you lose your job, you don’t lose your identity.

In the end, what I’m saying is this:

  1. Quiet quitting isn’t necessary. You have other options that are more productive and less passive aggressive.
  2. Evaluate what is important to you for your career. Where are you going and what do you  want to learn?
  3. Schedule a meeting with your manager to have an open honest discussion of what is expected of you.
  4. Create a life outside of work. Yes, there’s more to you than that! And it’s up to you to serve that side of your life.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Case Study: How to Get Support from an Absent Manager

Case Study: How to Get Support from an Absent Manager

July 18, 2022

Periodically, I invite a small group of early to mid-career professional women for breakfast and what I call, “Career Conversations.” I want to hear about the challenges they are experiencing in the workplace so that I can understand how to better serve them and others like them through my coaching and training.

The women who join me for this event are always very gracious as they share stories about their struggles and concerns; In turn, I offer guidance and help them come up with some new ideas for how to handle their situations.

As a new feature to my blog, I’d like to share some of their stories with you here as case studies. I’ll also share with you the advice I gave to help them in each situation. My hope is that you will find these conversations useful as well. I do have their permission, though I will use fictious names to respect their confidentiality.

Here is one of their stories:

Elizabeth has a manager who is consistently canceling meetings. She is frustrated because the manager is not providing enough direction for her to reach her sales goals.

The manager knew it was a new industry for Elizabeth when he hired her, so her asking for guidance was expected. However, the business has been growing, and he had less time to spend with her. When she reached out to him, his response was: “I am too busy because we are growing, so I don’t have time to meet with you.”

My advice:

I recommended that she send an email expressing why she needs his time.

During our discussion, we spent some of our time wordsmithing the email so that she had clear steps to move forward. Here is what we decided:

She should open the email by acknowledging the good news that the company is growing and that she can understand why his calendar is getting busier.

She should then state the reason she needs his help. For example, she might say: Since I am your only salesperson, I need you to help me understand best how to get the attention of new clients.

I also recommended that she include the following in her email:

  • What she has done to get herself acclimated to the new industry
  • What she has been doing to increase her knowledge of the industry
  • How she is broadening her network
  • How she is using LinkedIn to increase the company’s visibility.

These details will show her manager that she is not solely relying upon him to help her.

I also suggested she mention to her manager in a diplomatic way that since he has canceled the last three meetings, that they meet at a different time even if it means coming in early or staying late.

She should end the email expressing excited she is to see the company growing and that she wants to continue to be part of its success.

And finally, I suggested that in the future she should not wait too long to address concerns with her manager. This will enable the challenges to be rectified sooner and prevent them from growing out of hand.

Would you like to experience this level of support? Registration for my next workshop, Accelerate Your Career With Confidence is open now. Join me for a 3-month workshop that will help you improve your decision-making, feel more secure and confident at work, and work through the career challenges you face so you can build the career and life that you love.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Introverts: The Secret to Using Conversations to Build Relationships

pictured: a business woman and business man in conversation

Introverts: The Secret to Using Conversations to Build Relationships

July 4, 2022

pictured: a business woman and business man in conversationAre you an introvert who finds it difficult to engage in conversation with someone new? Are you the quiet one in a crowd?

Perhaps you’re worried that you don’t have anything to say that would contribute to the conversation? Or maybe you have something to say, but it’s difficult to find an opening when so many people are talking?

Here is what I want you to know: You have something to contribute! And you don’t need to be talking in order to participate.

By being a good listener, encouraging others to continue to talk, and showing genuine interest in others, you will leave a more favorable impression than the person doing most of the talking.

At the same time, we don’t want you to be completely silent, right? So, let’s talk for a moment about balanced conversations and a framework that you can lean on to help you find space for your voice.

In my book, You, You, Me, You: The Art of Talking to People, Networking, and Building Relationships, I present a simple framework that can help you create structure in your conversations.

The rationale behind this framework is for you to invite others to talk more than you, which is a perfect fit for your tendency to be the quiet one.

How do you do that? By asking questions to help you learn about the other person before you begin to share something about yourself. There’s a rhythm to it… You, You, Me, You. It enables everyone to share, and it creates a sense of balance in the conversation. You can put this framework to use through the questions you ask.

I’ve put together a guide to help you quickly understand and apply the You, You, Me, You framework. You can request the guide here or use the form below. If you want to go deeper, you’ll find my book helpful.

As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in others than you can in two years by trying to get other people more interested in you.”

How do you turn a networking conversation into an ongoing professional relationship?

Use the You, You, Me, You Framework to easily engage in smoother conversations that leave a great impression.

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Getting Comfortable With Small Talk

5 business people talking and looking uncomfortable

Getting Comfortable With Small Talk

March 14, 2022

5 business people talking and looking uncomfortableAre you comfortable with small talk? I’m not a fan of small talk, and I’ve noticed that many people struggle with it.

The thing is, we can’t avoid small talk. It’s an inherent part of how we communicate, even if we hate it.

The answer to our discomfort with small talk is to understand its purpose so that we can leverage it to have the deeper conversations that we seek, and to develop new relationships.

So, what is the purpose of small talk?

It leads to deeper conversation and opportunities that you might not have had prior to what feels like an unimportant conversation that’s going nowhere.

If small talk is so important, why do we struggle so much with it?

For one, I don’t think we realize what purpose small talk plays, so it’s easy to discount it.

That’s the big misconception: We tend to think that small talk is unimportant and something we just have to endure. But small talk IS important! It is leading us to a rich opportunity.

When we engage in small talk, we’re working with our conversational partners to create a connection and get on the same page. It may just feel like chatter, but it can lead us into deeper conversation and it can serve as the beginning of a relationship with the other person.

And for another…it just plain makes us uncomfortable! We spend a lot of our time during small talk thinking things like:

  • “What do I say?”
  • “What if I say something wrong?”
  • “Why is this matter? It doesn’t sound important.”
  • “What do they think of me?”
  • “Is this going anywhere?”
  • “Is this worth my time? Should I be someplace else…?”

These concerns are normal. The realm of small talk is a vague, uncertain space where we’re all just trying to find some solid ground.

To help you (and your conversational partner) have a better small talk experience, I’d like to offer three suggestions that can make it less uncomfortable and also get you into the deeper conversation faster:

  1. Say their name a few different times. The most powerful word for any of us is our own name. It gives them an amazingly positive feeling and it will help you leave a positive impression. It also helps you remember their name for your next conversation with them.
  2. Give them a compliment. Whether you say you like their name, the color of a piece of clothing they are wearing, or are impressed by something they’ve accomplished, a compliment is another way to leave a positive impression. On top of that is the fact that they have the same concerns that you do. They’re thinking, “What if I say something wrong?” and “What does this person think of me?” Giving them a compliment eases these concerns, enabling the conversation to move more smoothly into deeper territory.
  3. Think of small talk as less about talking and more about listening. This is your opportunity to get to know the other person better. Bonus: When you ask your conversational partner questions that invite them to talk longer, you start moving beyond small talk and into the rich, deeper stuff.

I think the most important thing about small talk that we need to remember is that we are not the only ones who are uncomfortable with it. Most people are! But if we can be strategic about how we engage with that initial part of a conversation, we can get a lot more out of where it’s leading… deeper conversation and building great relationships that serve us.

Are you ready to move beyond small talk into building a professional relationship?

Use this step-by-step guide to easily engage in smoother conversation and improve your confidence.

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Marking Time: Reflections on a Year

Jayne Mattson writing her annual letter

Marking Time: Reflections on a Year

January 3, 2022

Jayne Mattson writing her annual letterWhat do you do to mark the shift through the New Year?

Especially in times like these, with a multi-year pandemic and the difficulties of connecting safely with our loved ones, I believe that tuning in to the New Year can help us more consciously embrace what’s good in our lives.

At least… I hope so.

I began a new ritual last year: I wrote myself a letter that I would open one year later, and I invited my readers to do the same.

What I’d like to do now is ask: Was it useful? Was writing myself a personal letter at the turning of the year a useful endeavor?

Let’s find out…

As I opened my letter today, I was surprised to see that I wrote a four- pager. I don’t remember doing that and I don’t think of myself as a writer but apparently, I had a lot to say!

And as I read through my message, three themes rise up: Gratitude; Relationships; and Innovation. I can see how these themes made sense last year, and they make sense right now as well.

Gratitude:

My letter tells me that I woke up early January 2021 with a heart full of gratitude because the three top priorities in my life of faith, health, and connection with family & friends were strong.

I am an optimist by nature and tend to look at what is good to make it better. Even last year, mid-pandemic, I chose to focus on the positive things that happened in my life that got me through what are some of the most challenging of times for all of us.

Like many people, I had lost friends and family. Not being able to grieve fully in person made the losses even more painful. Despite that, I still felt gratitude for having them in my lives for so long and I cherished each memory we had together.

Relationships:

The physical was certainly difficult, but meeting people virtually seemed to alleviate it in many ways. (Good to note as we head into our 2nd pandemic winter.)

Since my relationships with family, friends and colleagues are extremely important, I found ways to stay connected. I am known as “the glue that keeps people together” and I embrace that as part of my identity – so much so that I wrote a book about building relationships just a few years ago. Bringing people together is second nature to me.

Innovation:

The last theme in my letter was about how over the previous year I had leaned heavily into innovating as I created new marketing channels for my business.

I hired a Marketing Consultant and a Web Designer who helped me rebrand my business and create an amazing new website that I still am so proud of!

It was challenging work because it made me get very clear on who I help, how I help them, and how I want to find and connect with the people I serve.

That work was hard, but it was so worth it! I’m still using that marketing strategy now and I’m looking forward to leveling up in the new year with Live video on LinkedIn!

As I look over last year’s letter, I have some very specific takeaways:

Writing that letter was helpful. I feel like it’s creating some powerful cohesion between where I was at this time last year and where I feel like I’m going now as we head into the new year. I can see the flow of the themes and it brings confidence and clarity that I would not have had if I hadn’t written myself that letter last year.

Noting the themes between then and now is powerful. I can see the flow of ideas and direction. As I look back, it gives me a sense of accomplishment; as I look forward, I feel conviction about where I’m headed.

The themes of Gratitude, Relationships, and Innovation feel to me like a balance of past, present, and future. I like how that feels – being grateful for where I’ve been, cherishing what I have, and being planful about where I’m going.

Will I be writing another letter this year? Yes. In fact, I’ve already started it.

And I invite you to write one to yourself as well. The flow of time can sweep us away if we let it. Marking time with letters to ourselves can help us be more intentional about where we’ve been, what we want, and where we’re going.

Will you be writing a letter to yourself? Let me know in the comments! Then next year when it’s time to open my next letter, I’ll tag you and we can both open our letters and share what we’ve learned!

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Speaking Up: How to Confidently Assert Your Boundaries at Work

Speaking Up: How to Confidently Assert Your Boundaries at Work

December 13, 2021

Early in my career, I had a manager who would berate his employees during our staff meetings.

Whenever I saw him do this to my colleagues, I would talk ask them after: “Why don’t you speak up?” The answer was usually just a shrug, or a question: “What would I say?”

Then one day, it happened to me. My manager scolded me right there in front of my colleagues. I was embarrassed, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

As soon as the meeting was over, I went into my manager’s office and said, “I would like to talk to you about that you said to me in the meeting this morning. When you said _______, I felt disrespected, specifically because you said this in front of my colleagues. I welcome feedback, but can you please do it behind closed doors?”

He said: “I am sorry. You’re right. I won’t do it again.” I’m happy to say that he stopped speaking to me that way during meetings!

Sometimes people just don’t realize that how they’re doing something is having a negative impact, and they don’t see how else they might do it that could provide better results.

There are three elements at play here that I want to bring to your attention: boundaries, confidence, and assertiveness.

When my boss berated me in front of my colleagues, he crossed one of my boundaries: I will accept feedback, but only in private. As soon as he crossed this line, I knew I had to say something.

This is where confidence came in. Confidence is based in courage, and courage doesn’t exist without fear. Going in to talk to my boss wasn’t easy. I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it. But talking to him about it was essential. I had a boundary to defend!

And in fact, I demonstrated that boundary by talking to him in private. I like to think that me doing unto him the way I wanted him to do unto me is part of why it went well.

And lastly, we all need to be assertive. Assertiveness is about communicating in a clear and direct manner. It’s about using the right language so that we can get our message across with respect so that we are heard without hurting someone else’s feelings.

I think there’s a fine line between assertiveness and aggressiveness that we have to walk carefully, especially for women. If we push too much, they’ll be offended and put off; if we push too little, they won’t take us seriously. Walking this line takes practice.

I often help my clients work out how they want to respond to situations like this. Here are two things that I have them think about:

  1. What is the action or behavior that didn’t work for you?
    example: my boss berated me in front of my colleagues
  2. What is the action or behavior that needs to happen instead?
    example: I welcome feedback behind closed doors

Then use those two pieces of information to help you craft an assertive statement that clearly describes what you need.

Again, this takes practice. But if you work with these situations intentionally, you can help to promote an atmosphere at work that will enable you to thrive!

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Drawing Lines: How to Maintain Healthy Boundaries at Work

How to maintain healthy boundaries

Drawing Lines: How to Maintain Healthy Boundaries at Work

December 6, 2021

How to maintain healthy boundariesDuring a recent presentation, I asked my audience – a group of early-career professional women – this question:

“Which professional boundaries do you find difficult to maintain?”

Their answers showed that:

  • 66% struggled with committing to their personal time outside of work hours because they continue to check emails after the workday has ended
  • 22% had difficulty saying “no” to opportunities that did not align with their lifestyle needs and values

This same audience agreed that the challenge is further exacerbated when you have goals and desires around your work including:

  • Wanting to be recognized and valued for your work
  • Feeling respected by others
  • Getting feedback in private
  • Being valued for their willingness to express differing opinions

It’s easy to feel torn between reaching for our career goals and protecting our personal lives. It might be tempting, even, to forgo our boundaries and personal lives for the sake of our career goals.

I caution you against that mindset. Once a boundary is given up, it’s much harder to regain. Plus, that’s a short-term approach. I’ve thought it myself: “I can do this for a year…”. But one year turns into three, which turns into a lifetime of imbalance.

It’s not just that you’ve opened the door and now you can’t close it. It’s more that it’s a habit that you’ve created within yourself. You don’t even see it happening… but habits are pervasive and difficult to change.

We’re also talking about setting other people’s expectations. If you don’t maintain healthy boundaries in your current job, it can be difficult to reestablish the boundaries you want without changing jobs altogether. If your boundaries are so compromised that you’re miserable, that’s a viable option… but if you can stop it from happening in the first place, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain and frustration.

So, decide right now what you want your career to look like and how you want that to balance with your personal life. It’s better to create stricter boundaries now that you can loosen later than to create loose boundaries that are almost impossible to tighten.

This problem of maintaining healthy work/life boundaries is not new, but it has gotten worse with working from home. These lines get fuzzy when they exist within the same four walls.

I encouraged the women in my audience – and I encourage YOU - to clearly define what your boundaries are:

  • What boundaries do you want to create and maintain?
    Be specific! Examples: No checking email after 7pm, or only take on opportunities that are in line with where you want your career to go.
  • What does crossing the boundary look like?
    Again, be specific. Envision it so that you’re more likely to see it when it happens.

Once you have a clear definition and understanding of your boundary, your next step is to have a conversation with your manager. When you are both on the same page about what you each expect, your boundary will likely require less management and, should lines start to get crossed, it will be easier to get back in bounds.

Want a little bit of accountability? I’m here for that! Tell me in the comments below: What’s the boundary that you want to maintain?

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The Career-Growth Gender Gap: It’s still here but we’ve got plans

women can take action to change the career-growth gender gap

The Career-Growth Gender Gap: It’s still here but we’ve got plans

November 22, 2021

women can take action to change the career-growth gender gapIf you are a woman and early in your career path, there’s something you need to know:

Women face challenges in their career growth that men do not.

If you think that we’re beyond the gender problem, I invite you to think again… because we are not!

In fact, women face TWO specific challenges:

First - Women don’t move up to the next level within their first five years at the same pace as men

Second - Because they don’t get promoted, women do not develop the same leadership skills as men within this same time frame.

These two steps are essential for career growth!

Researchers call this the “broken rung.” According to a 2019 study by McKinsey and LeanIn.org, these obstacles that prevent women from progressing in their careers.

Here’s the thing:

If you don’t get promoted, you don’t get into the pipeline for further promotions. Instead, you play a game of catch-up and it’s easy to continue to fall behind.

So… what can you do about this?

As an answer to that question, I’d like to tell you about a wonderful group of early-career professional women that I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak with.

They were enrolled in a year-long program designed to address these common career-growth challenges that women face in the workplace. These women knew that they had to take control over what they needed and wanted in their careers. They were aware that if they were going to remove the obstacles they faced, they needed to understand the challenges that created them.

As part of their program, these women identified their values around what is important to them in the workplace. With that in mind, I spoke with them about three key areas that build upon what they value in the workplace.

  1. Work boundaries
  2. Confidence
  3. Assertiveness

These are foundational factors that support their values. (If you want to identify your own values with regards to the workplace, download the Corporate Culture worksheet.)

Here’s a quick summary of these key areas and how they support and align with your values:

Work Boundaries reflect how you want to be treated in the workplace. Keep in mind: You should treat others the same way you hope to be treated. Following the Golden Rule can serve a guiding light.

Confidence helps you define and establish your boundaries.

Assertiveness guides you towards using the right language to get your point across clearly and tactfully when your boundaries are threatened or compromised.

What I find most exciting about these key areas is that they are skills. That means you can learn them and practice them so that when you need them, you’ll be ready.

Here is what I’m hoping you’ll take away from this:

  • You have to choose to take control over what you want and need in your career
  • You can take action to combat the challenges you face
  • Finding support through communities and a career coach can help you make these things happen for yourself.

We are still facing gender challenges in the workplace, but we are not victims to them. You can take specific, focused action to support your own career growth. When you do the work, success will follow.

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