When you don’t work at your company’s headquarters, you will be at a disadvantage, even if you visit frequently. You will just miss many of the informal interactions through which relationships are built and work gets done. So it’s critical that you know where your company’s “center of gravity” is and evaluate your proximity to it.
By figuring this out, you can proactively create a game plan that will keep you aligned with that center of gravity. Hard work and delivering results are key, but building the right relationships will set you up for further success.
1. Identify your company’s center of gravity
Figure out how decisions get made in your company and who makes them. Who are the key executive leaders who wield power? These are the “key leaders.” Who are the key influencers or the go-to people? Who do the key executive leaders see as people they can count on to deliver results? These are the “key influencers.”
2. Have regular personal interactions
Meet with key leaders and key influencers one-on-one (and in person!) several times a year. Regular business reviews and check-ins are great and can often happen over breakfast or lunch, as well as in the office. The focus is certainly working together to make key goals a reality, but this is also a great opportunity to forge personal relationships. In-person meetings are the best way to build rapport. Make sure to ask a few key questions, such as:
- What are your top priorities this year?
- Are there specific projects or initiatives on which my team or I can help you?
- What advice would you give someone looking to attain more responsibility?
- What other skills would be valuable for me to develop?
The more senior the person, the less frequent the interaction may be, but if it is focused and substantive, once or twice a year is the perfect frequency.
3. Lead a key enterprise program
There is no better way to have valuable interactions with colleagues than to lead a key program. Especially for people who work remotely, this forces you into the center of gravity and can help you build your brand and credibility across the organization. It can also help you acquire new areas of expertise that you can further build upon. Working with your manager to identify opportunities and gain his/her support in this is critical. My biggest tip here is to ask for these opportunities and/or volunteer for them when they come up. Make it known that you want to take on work and help the team. It will be hard for anyone to refuse that.
Jackie Shoback is executive vice president, chief client development officer for Boston Private.