By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
“Networking is the single most important factor in your ability to move up the ranks. Research has proven that you’re more likely to get a positive performance review, more likely to get a raise and even be retained in the event of layoffs by your company when you know how to network properly.”
Alisa Cohn is an executive coach based in New York City who is clear about where she feels you need to concentrate your efforts to get ahead in your career. She stresses that circulating and networking helps to increase your reputation as a good person to work with
who has a unique body of experience and knowledge and these two elements are the necessary fundamentals.
“If you’re positive on both those things together, people will want to pull you onto jobs that are interesting and good opportunities for you,” she says adding that building successful business relationships still need an element of personality. Cohn is also careful to point out these pairings are quite different from those fostered with friends and family.
“I always tell people you don’t have to go to the movies with these business associates,” she says, “that’s not what networking is about. But what it is about is building up a baseline of rapport and trust so that people want to work with you and you know the good people to pull onto your projects as well.”
According to Cohn, having this networking model in mind is particularly important for the Big4 because with the different teams that are constantly coming together and breaking apart, you need to have an inventory of the talent at the firm you’re working at. It’s also important to have a good idea of what you see as the next step in your career. She explains the balance that needs to be achieved.
“An emerging leader is focused on moving up the ladder and building relationships with senior people and also peers who can help them,” she says. “Senior people will sponsor you for promotion, but very often in many firms it’s your peers that need to vote for you.”
The dynamic shifts as you become more senior and you need to influence the people around you to get them to do what you want. Even as you climb the corporate ladder, you need to stay aware of building what Cohn calls “followership.”
“In some way the people that are supposed to work for you should want to work for you, especially these days in the Soft Power environment,” she says. These more senior people also want different things like board positions and this necessitates dealing with contemporaries like CEOs. Cohn brings our discussion full circle.
“Your ability to do that is a result of your ability to network and build rapport,” she says.