*This blog first appeared in NextGen Collective.
We all want it, whether we admit it aloud or not.
Here’s a secret 🤫: we all have it.
In its simplest definition, power is the ability to act. Building your power relies on your ability to create deep, authentic connections with other people.
Because to get anywhere in your career, you need to cultivate a team of people around you who know what you’re all about and have your back. You’ll never know who will help you climb the next rung of the career ladder until you get there.
As a communications professional with a ❤️for social justice, I wanted to learn how to focus my gift of gab and love of people for the greater good. So I recently attended a community-organizing training session to learn some skills on developing deep relationships.
I bet you’re thinking, “Wait, what? Aren’t community organizers just concerned with getting politicians all riled up?”
Whether we are rallying people around a new idea, making a cultural shift in the office, or signing up coworkers for the next company volunteer day, it takes more than ourselves to make things happen. “Organizing” means getting people to join your movement.
And it’s empowering.
Once you start tapping into the infinite power of the people around you, you’ll realize that you’re not alone. It takes a team to get anywhere in life and you have teammates with expertise all around you. You will also build confidence by honing your ability to create a community—an ability you can take with you wherever you go.
Networking is just the start: relationships aren’t created with an exchange of business cards. Like any other meaningful relationship in your life, they take time to develop. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to see who aligns with your values and goals—those are the relationships you want to pursue.
The essential tool in your power-building toolbox is: mastering the one-on-one meeting. In this thirty- to forty-minute meeting, you are flexing your listening skills. This is the time for you to dig deep and ask the other person about their job, their life, and their interests. You’re looking for what motivates them in life, why they do what they do, and what kind of difference they hope to make.
Five Steps to Building a Power Network
- Get clear on your values. Let’s get real, as Latinx professionals we have a chance to make the world a better place for our community. Understand the motivation behind your goals. Get specific about what kind of impact you want to make on the world. This really shapes the network you build.
- Set up one-on-one meetings with intention. Y’all, I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Say no to your inner “yes” monster and prioritize your meetings. Think about whose values and goals align with yours, and call them first.
- Use your time wisely. A one-on-one is an opportunity to get to know someone. The first meeting is not the time to ask for a favor. Check your ego at the door and focus on the other person. Listen closely. Ask politely probing questions. Learn what motivates and inspires them.
- Record and reflect. After the meeting, jot down a few notes about where the person works and what they’re interested in. Reflect on whether there’s a win-win situation in which you can add value to the person’s life to help them reach their goals, and vice versa. Remember what your mama said about manners and send them a thank you note for sharing their time with you.
- Repeat steps one through four.
To paraphrase Maya Angelou, people may forget what you said or did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. That’s why it’s so powerful to have thoughtful, authentic conversations where you are genuine in your interest. People remember being heard. They remember authenticity.
Now, get out there and start building your power network.