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The Confidence Effect
Every Woman's Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success
By Grace Killelea
AMACOMCopyright © 2016 Grace Killelea
All rights reserved.
This Is Not Your Mother's Networking
My mom was an Italian citizen who met my dad when he was serving in the U.S. Navy. I was born in Italy, and we moved to the U.S. when I was four years old. By then, my mom was 40 and did not speak or read English. Born in 1923, she'd been taken out of school at the age of eight to help my grandmother take care of her siblings. My mom never had an opportunity to go back to school. Although she was very bright, her circumstances prevented her from having certain educational opportunities. One of the important lessons I learned in my life is that education and intelligence are two different things.
My mom believed that I needed to speak English without an accent and that education was a key to a better life. Since my dad was in the Navy, as soon as we moved to San Diego from Naples, he was back out to sea. He wasn't able to help me learn to read and write in English. Determined to find someone to help me, my mom sought out the only woman in our neighborhood who had a college degree. In 1964, if a woman had a college degree, she was one of three things: a secretary, a teacher, or a nurse. Mary Ryan, a registered nurse, happened to live across the street from us. My mom asked Mary to help me with my homework and my reading/writing skills.
Mary was an Irish fireplug — a little woman with a big personality. She drilled me on my homework and had me read newspapers out loud to practice my speaking skills.
I believe Mary is one of the reasons I did well in school most of my life. She built up my skills, and she told me I was smart and I could do anything I set my mind to. I learned many important lessons from Mary, who was officially my first mentor. But I learned even more important lessons from my mom, who taught me the power of networking. She knew there was something she didn't know, so she found a resource to help me. She walked over to Mary's house with a big bowl of pasta fagioli and said she needed someone to help her little girl learn to read. They forged a friendship (based on Mary's knowledge and my mom's great Italian food).
My mom built her network one woman at a time, and it started with Mary. Over the years, I watched my mom build relationships through community service, being kind and helpful to others, and being willing to ask for (and to give) help. It's a lesson that has served me my entire life.
My mother passed away when I was 24, and Mary Ryan was one of many women who created a safe place for me during that difficult time. Over the course of your life, your network can be activated for lots of different reasons. Mary held the light for me when my mom no longer could. Both of these women helped set my foundation and gave me skills to develop my competence and confidence.
"Shine Your Light" with the Power of Networking
Networking gives us the power to "shine our light" where others can see it, as well as to collaborate with those we can help and — just as important — with those who can help us.
One of the biggest mistakes a future leader can make is thinking that she can lead, or even work, alone. No woman is an island unto herself and, as we've just seen, the larger your network, the more resources you'll have to draw on as you take on more and more leadership roles.
But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Many women think they're networking when, in fact, they're not. So let's begin with a basic definition before we go any further, so that we're both working from the same playbook.
IPO: Information, Power, and Opportunity
For me, networking is quite simply an exchange of three vital components that I like to call IPO:
Information. Networking is first and foremost an information gathering — and giving — exercise. If you're socializing, great, but don't call it networking. Networking can feel like work because it is work, at least when you do it right. If you come away from a social, business, or marketing event and know nothing more than you did when you arrived, then you're not networking. Collecting a handful of business cards is not networking. According to Lisa Chang of AMB Group, "Building a network is surrounding yourself with people who can prop you up when you don't feel like you are in a position to be propped up and having other people to be there to support you. I think that is really important, to surround yourself with people who know your capabilities and, when you start to stumble a little bit, can kind of pick you back up. I think that is really important, to have that network."
Power. Power comes from knowledge, which is why all three of the IPO components are so vitally important to your networking activities. Don't think of power, in this sense, as a negative, mean, or nasty thing, where you're stepping on others to climb your way up. No, this kind of power comes from the strength of your relationships and how they can help you accelerate and multiply your efforts in times of need. When it comes to leadership, the more people you have in your network, the more powerfully you can lead because you have more resources compared to leaders who isolate themselves from valuable contacts.
Opportunity. Too many women still think that opportunity will magically waltz into their cubicles and whisk them away to the corner office. They believe that if the world is "fair," they will be promoted. Fact is, opportunity is waiting to be discovered around every corner, in every new relationship, and at every meeting. But first you must approach networking as a treasure hunt instead of a chore. Go about your day welcoming the chance to make new connections or strengthen old bonds and see what opportunities emerge.
We'll cover more on IPO in Chapter 5. For now, remember, when viewed through this lens, you can see how networking can greatly impact your current career trajectory and, what's more, brand you as a determined and connected leader.
New Ways to Network
Once upon a time, networking meant going to a meeting and sitting with your friends. And that's great, that's fun, that's ... comfortable. But if you're always with the same people, recycling the same old ideas, you're probably socializing, not networking.
Nor does networking mean attending an event and collecting business cards to add to your growing collection, all the while knowing that you'll never actually follow up on contacting any of those people. Today, networking is about going to an event where you are exposed to new ideas — where you meet new people and exchange information.
We should absolutely embrace old friendships and nurture existing contacts, but not to the exclusion of new faces, ideas, and opportunities. Imagine visiting a foreign country and eating only at McDonald's. A burger and fries are fine, but you can get them any time you want back home. How about exploring new cuisine, trying new dishes and flavors, sampling the various tastes that a foreign land offers to those who have never experienced it before?
But that's the problem with never leaving your comfort zone, particularly when it comes to networking: By remaining where things are easy, comfortable, and "safe," you miss out on opportunities that are right around the corner. I'm amazed at the number of women I know who go to events and sit next to someone they already know rather than venture out to meet new people. When they tell me they were at a networking event, I say, "No, you ate dinner with a friend." Going to an event is not networking.
Networking: Not a Speech, But a Conversation
One of the many misconceptions about networking is that it requires a stern, stiff, and well-rehearsed elevator speech with which to introduce (i.e., "sell") yourself and, ostensibly, ask the other person for something: a compliment, an introduction, a business card, a phone number, etc.
But networking is not a speech; it's a free-flowing, ongoing conversation — an exchange of words, ideas, inspirations, support, encouragement, and, above all, opportunities.
But in networking, as in anything else worth doing, you get only as much as you give. And the fact is, the more relationships you have, the more you must give.
That is the lifeblood of networking: the ebb and flow of new people, new connections, new ideas, new ventures, and new opportunities to explore. IPO — information, power, and opportunity — is the fuel that jumpstarts new information and cements new relationships.
One of the most important elements of networking is not just to be "served" but to be of service as well. Finding out how you can help others make connections, providing your contacts with helpful information, and being supportive of your network makes a difference. If all you ever do is take, take, and then take some more, word spreads and that becomes your personal brand. But if you're recognized as someone who is generous with your time and skills, someone who does for others as often as she is done for, then that becomes your much more powerful, and influential, personal brand. And that's the kind of brand that makes networking easier down the line because people will actively seek you out to connect with you and collaborate with you.
That said, don't be shy about helping others — and letting them know how you've helped others! It's important to create a certain level of awareness about yourself when building your brand; doing so will reward you with networking opportunities that you never would have imagined.
Networking in 20 Minutes or Less
Another common misconception about networking is that it's massively time-consuming. Networking does take time, especially to do it right, but take heart: You don't have to create a vast and thriving network overnight!
One of the first places to start networking is within your own organization, and it's much easier than you think. In fact, here is my simple, proven method for Networking in 20 Minutes:
Start by identifying a skill set that you are looking to improve upon or even master, such as marketing, promotion, technology, or social media. Let's say you're an expert in marketing but you struggle with budgeting.
Reach out to someone in the finance division of your company to set up a brief, 20-minute meeting.
Offer to buy the finance person a cup of coffee; make it convenient for her and stress that you won't take up a lot of time. Typically, I find, 20 minutes is enough to get to know each other better, connect, and share vital information.
During this meeting, talk briefly about your diverse skill sets and, most important, offer something in return. For example, after learning a bit more about budgeting, perhaps you can make a few marketing suggestions to her, such as how to make a more effective presentation.
I'm a big believer in going outside of your area to continually improve your own skill set and that of others. So if you are in marketing, get to know the operations side of your company a little better; become familiar with the real "guts" of the organization.
Branch out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons, and introduce yourself to folks you wouldn't seek out if you weren't interested in growing your network.
The Locked Gate: Networking for Mentors
Most people would kill for a little guidance now and then, which is why finding a good mentor is a critical step to success for any future leader. Unfortunately, finding a mentor can be challenging because most people who have the experience, wisdom, skill sets, and leadership to mentor you are so busy being successful that they won't have time to mentor anyone! However, as you network and expand your skills, you will prove yourself to be someone worth mentoring. Consequently, you'll come into contact with more potential mentors.
For example, a young man who was my intern many years ago has always kept in touch with me through updates on what's happening in his career in professional sports. My network is broad, and whenever someone in it needs talent, a connection, or a contact in the sports field, he's on the top of my list. Whether it's to ask for information or offer a position, the relationship is a valuable one because it provides the IPO that makes networking so rich in opportunities.
One great way to have access to prominent thought leaders and potential mentors is to make time to volunteer at various events, seminars, conferences, and speaking engagements. There's a great need for such volunteers to help with registration, direct traffic, escort speakers, and so forth at these events. Being part of the process gives you exposure to a variety of interesting and well-connected people.
Having been a keynote speaker at dozens of events, I can tell you that the volunteers are the ones I tend to speak with the most, especially as I'm going through my microphone check sessions and preparing to speak. You'd be surprised by how quickly you can create an impression just by making a guest speaker's life a little easier!
Networking: The Social Media Shift
Networking has evolved since the advent of social media, but despite the rapid advancement of technology, I think that at its heart, networking is still basically the same. I do, however, have more access to people than I used to. And, thanks to email and texting and social media sites like LinkedIn, I have the ability to communicate quickly with my network in ways that didn't exist five years ago.
But while the access and speed with which you can connect with people is different today, what people want and expect is the same. People want you to be authentic and not to contact them just because you want something. Using your network only when you are in need or in a crisis is a mistake.
People I haven't heard from in years will call me, panicking and looking for help when they lose jobs or go through a restructuring of their organization. I do my best. Yet, I can't help but wonder when, and if, they'll ever return the favor.
On the other hand, I have folks in my network who are in essence partners from whom I don't wait for a call before I send information, power, or opportunity (IPO) their way. You have to express gratitude along the way and stay in touch with the people in your network. Otherwise, frankly, they're not part of your network. Someone you haven't spoken to in 10 years may still be in your network, but in name only.
Another way that networking has changed is the "stickiness" that accompanies your personal brand as it merges and evolves into your online brand. In essence, your network and brand get interconnected.
Here's an example: I know of someone who had a strong professional brand but began making provocative social media posts. People's perception of this individual began to shift, and members of her network began to disengage from her. When you go off track in terms of appropriateness, it can really change people's perception of you.
The speed at which people can actually begin to disengage from you has also sped up. We have to be careful not only in how we network but how we communicate within our organizations and also within our larger network online.
It's a mistake to think that you can do it all alone. The more resources you have to draw on, the more you can accomplish. Keep in mind that while socializing is fine, it's not networking. Nor is networking merely attending an event and collecting business cards if you have no plan to follow up. Networking is about getting exposed to new ideas, meeting new people — including potential mentors and partners — and exchanging information. Think of it as an exchange of three vital components that make up IPO: information, power, and opportunity.CHAPTER 2
Delegation: Working Harder Isn't the Answer
For too many women, working hard seems to be the answer to everything, as if by doing everything, all at once, by ourselves, we can prove we're worthy of that promotion, raise, or corner office. But in doing so, we may overlook those team and subordinate relationships that can help us achieve more, with less.
This chapter on delegation skills focuses on one of the most overlooked and underrated workplace relationships around. Learning to delegate allows you the space and time to lift your head among the crush of work and build your brand and network. The energy we use doing everything ourselves can keep us feeling (and looking) overwhelmed and harried at work. Delegation is another tool to help you connect your competence to your confidence. Looking like your hair is on fire does not instill confidence in your skills.
Like many corporate buzzwords, delegation carries with it a lot of baggage. As we assume more, and greater, responsibilities in our ascension through the ranks of leadership, naturally we can't keep doing the things we did two or even three positions ago.
We have new responsibilities, yet we cling to our old work ethic of doing it twice as long, and twice as hard, as everyone else. Some of us may see delegation as a crutch, something the guys use to get things done while they're out golfing. But like networking, delegation is a secret weapon savvy leaders use to accelerate both their personal brand and daily performance.
When it comes to delegation, we often get in our own way. I have seen many women get so torn up over the "housekeeping" issues of how to delegate — the nuts and bolts and ins and outs — that they decide it's not worth the effort. I think women are consumed with "how to do it" and "what the value is."
As we get into more senior roles, our work should become less tactical (operational) and more strategic (high-level leadership). Yet, the women we work with at the Half The Sky Leadership Institute are often extremely protective of "their" way of doing things. Essentially, they're saying, "We've been rewarded for doing our work a certain way. If we give that up, we'll lose ground."
Excerpted from The Confidence Effect by Grace Killelea. Copyright © 2016 Grace Killelea. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Moving from Competence to Confidence
Part I. Relationships
• Chapter 1. This Is Not Your Mother's Networking
• Chapter 2. Delegation: Working Harder Isn't the Answer
• Chapter 3. The Keys to Executive Presence
• Chapter 4. Coachingand Being Coached
• Chapter 5. Building your IPO (Information, Power, and Opportunity)
Part II. Reputation
• Chapter 6: Seize Opportunities with Courageous Leadership
• Chapter 7. Recognizing Your Own Abilities
• Chapter 8. Building Your Personal Brand
• Chapter 9. Reputation Management
Part III. Results
• Chapter 10. From Tactics to Strategy
• Chapter 11. Using Data to Your Advantage
• Chapter 12. The Power of Accountability
• Chapter 13. The Politics of Progress
Part IV. Resilience
• Chapter 14. Being a Change Agent
• Chapter 15. Competence, Confidence, and the Emotional Quotient
• Chapter 16. Learning to Bounce
• Chapter 17. The Importance of Stamina
• Chapter 18. Taking Control of Your Career
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think the author knew I needed this book at this particular time during my career! The concepts outlined can be implemented immediately into your life and they really stay with you. Concepts include not only the four R's of success - relationships, reputation, results and resilience, but also learning how to "bounce" - when we face unexpected challenges in life, how do we respond? Just like when we were kids, we should "stop" (stop running/breathe/assess), "drop" (drop fear) and "roll" (roll through the tough time) of course! The author talks about confidence at your core - and treating it much like how you strengthen your core with exercise. The core is "the place where we're the most powerful, the most authentic, the most self-reliant, and the most connected to our skills and abilities." I'm so glad I read this book at the beginning of the year and I have the year ahead to thoughtfully connect confidence and competence in my own life. Here's to making it all "click"!