While many ways to establish your brand are weighted toward extroverts — taking leadership roles in professional associations, starting a conference, or embracing public speaking, for example — introverts, too, can build connections and develop their personal brands while respecting their natural tendencies.
• Social media. This is an area where introverts, who thrive on quiet contemplation, have an advantage. By writing a blog, for example, you can take time to formulate your thoughts and engage in real dialogue on social networks around the strength of your ideas.
• One-on-one connections. If you’re more comfortable socializing one-on-one than in bigger groups, become a connector one person at a time. Ask a new person from a different office or department to lunch once a week, and you’ll build a robust network on your own terms.
• Subtle cues. Small things can establish your personal brand without a word: simply placing diplomas or awards on your office walls can reinforce your expertise to others.
Adapted from “Personal Branding for Introverts” by Dorie Clark.
A powerful sponsor can help you keep the job you have or help you find a new one. But in an uncertain job market, executives who count on one high-level backer may unexpectedly find themselves in a tough spot if their sponsor jumps ship. In sponsorship, as in investments, it’s wise to diversify your portfolio of assets: cultivate more than one sponsor.
Your sponsors should be independent of each other; if one goes down, the others won’t be dragged along. Having three sponsors is ideal: in organizations with fewer than 10 people, pursue one sponsor within the firm and two outside of it in the same industry; in larger firms, you’ll want one outsider and two insiders — one in your line of sight and one in a different department or division. This “2+1 Rule” gives you a better chance of surviving a threat to your department, your division, or even your firm.
Adapted from “To Diversify Your Network, Follow the 2+1 Rule” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.
It’s happened to all of us: a disagreement in the conference room leads to bad blood between you and your colleague. It’s nothing personal, but the relationship feels strained at best, and downright damaged at worst. Try these two tactics to restore peace:
* Ask for a favor: This may seem counterintuitive, but it works. Allow your colleague to demonstrate her knowledge and/or her generosity. By allowing her to help you, you’ve put her in a magnanimous position.
* Flatter, genuinely. Even if someone is difficult to work with, you can probably find a quality you admire: strong ethics, conviction. Compliment your colleague on that quality and watch him soften. Be genuine, or it can easily backfire. Deliver compliments in the context of a project or meeting and don’t say anything you don’t mean.
Adapted from “Three Ways to Be More Persuasive” by Judith Ross.
Today’s economy is forcing many organizations, both big and small, to consider acquisitions or mergers. Before fully integrating your organization with another, consider forging a strategic alliance that may give you and your partner lower costs, greater scale, or broader market scope without sacrificing independence. For smaller organizations, consider forming alliances to reduce costs of duplicative activities. Non-profit organizations can partner to market to prospective donors.
Regardless of the reasons, proceed cautiously as alliances can be difficult to build and even more complex to maintain.
Adapted from “How to Strike Effective Alliances and Partnerships” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
Management, like payroll and sales, is becoming another function to facilitate the work of the technically and creatively skilled people who do the heavy lifting. We need managers, not because people need a boss, but because people need someone to resolve the issues that are stopping them from doing their work. Managers aren’t ball carriers. They’re running interference for the ball carriers. In the world of minimally invasive management, managers have three primary jobs: they need to hire, they need to develop and serve their people, and they need to fire. But most of the time, managers need to get out of the way and let people do their work.
Adapted from “Be a Minimally Invasive Manager” by Randy Komisar.
Sure, some B-school partnerships work, but for every successful startup there are hundreds more that quietly combust. Consider these common pitfalls before starting a business with a B-school friend:
* Sharing the same work history. Many MBA students have experience in investment banking, private equity, or consulting, but a successful start-up requires professionals with entirely different kinds of perspectives and expertise — for example, a technologist with the technical skill to build a worthwhile product, and a product person with a solid handle on entering the market.
* Not sharing the same values. It’s tempting to assume you hold similar values as your friends, but unless you’re asking each other very tough, pointed questions, each of your values may be unknown — and there is no more fertile ground for conflict than a fundamental mismatch of values.
Adapted from “Don’t Start a Company with Your Business School Pals” by Michael Fertik.
An ever-increasing number of suppliers provide products and services to help companies be more creative, collaborative, and inventive. But the roots of a company’s innovation capacity are simple: its talent pool and its commitment to building knowledge and competencies. Managers must invest in two kinds of education to make this work. First, they need to ensure that the professionals they employ are current in their fields. Every discipline is experiencing accelerated development — the downside of which is rapid knowledge obsolescence. Second, organizations should train their people specifically in the innovation skills needed to bring potentially valuable ideas to fruition.
This competency is not innate, but can be learned. Developing innovation skills requires mastering some fundamentals through repetition. Such training is rarely available in science and technology programs, so educate your talent pool accordingly.
Adapted from “If You Want Innovation, You Have to Invest in People” by Mehran Mehregany.