If I had to give one piece of advice to quickly expand and enhance both your career and professional relationships it’s this: be others-focused.
I recently wrote about being others focused on my blog – for which my target audience is financial advisors and professionals, most of whom are male. I thought I could reuse a lot of the content. I was wrong. As I reread it with WIN in mind, it didn’t sit right because we (women) tend to be naturally others-focused, sometimes to a fault.
When I suggest being others-focused, I am not recommending you take more on or make it only about everyone else (you likely are already doing this). I’m proposing you strategically identify what others need and want so you can help them and yourself.
Think about the people who sustain and drive your success: your manager, clients, prospects, friends and family. What fears, challenges and needs do they have that you can solve? Or even if you can’t solve, can you acknowledge and support them as an empathetic partner?
How does this play out in your career?
Understand what’s in it for you
Being others focused strategically requires you to be clear about what you want and need. When you are clear about your needs, the role someone may play in your career and life (and the role you can play in theirs) becomes obvious.
Who in your life can you help? Who do you need help from? We all need connectors, mentors and advocates.
Connectors are the people who help you get you from point A to Z. This could be through introductions, recommendations, or some other form of external support. They may open a door or idea that leads you down a path you’d never have found on your own but is important in your growth. Often, when you look back, you’ll be surprised that someone you didn’t expect to have such an incredible impact did.
Mentors provide support; they are critical in helping you grow as a champion and trusted partner. Traditionally we think about mentors as formal relationships, often within your company or industry. However, mentors can also be people you’ve had a single conversation with or learned lessons learned through their story.
If you feel like you don’t have the bench of mentors you need, look beyond your company and network. Learn about people you admire, read their books, podcasts and follow them on social. Some of the most powerful mentors I have never met (but hope to one day!).
An advocate is someone in a position of influence who can speak on your behalf as a sponsor when you’re not there (especially when you’re not there). These are the people that make or break your career in ways you can’t on your own. They may push you into a role or project that is outside of your comfort zone. While you may be inclined to resist, trust they see something in you that you may not be able to see just yet.
Give and receive
Being others-focused is a dance. You give, they give, you give, they give. In order to receive the benefits, you must be open to receiving as much as giving.
No one wants to dance with someone who resists.
Don’t be surprised when you start to give that others will want to give back. Let them give but help them by being explicit in what need, fear, want and desire. Sometimes the people who we expect will help don’t. More often, individuals we don’t expect much from will have a meaningful impact
How to be others-focused
It starts by getting to know your audience. Understand their needs, fears, wants and desires. Instead of “what can you do for me?” refocus on “what matters to you?”
Whether it’s your boss, co-worker or a stranger you’re meeting at a networking event, ask open-ended questions to uncover what matters to them. Keep them going with more open-ended follow-up questions. Clarify and synthesize what you’ve heard so they know you’re engaged and to confirm you’ve hit on gold – a need, fear, want or desire.
You may find that there’s nothing obvious you can help with, and that’s ok. Or you may need to flip the script, get vulnerable and share one of your needs by asking for help yourself.
Remember, the world revolves around them
Being other- focused is one of the best ways to improve relationships, drive your career and quickly grow professionally and personally. Practice putting yourself in others’ shoes to build and deepen trust, rapport and to get what you need.
At the upcoming WIN networking event, the Summer Social on August 19th, and any other networking opportunities you have, I challenge you to practice being others focused, uncover a need you can help with and act on it, and when the situation is right, ask for help. I’d love to hear about the outcomes.
I partner with RIAs and financial professionals looking to unlock their potential by getting intentional and comfortable with selling. Growth strategist and coach, accountability partner, change maker – those are some of the names I’ve been called over the past 15 years. If you’d like to move more prospects to clients and clients to advocates, I’d love to help. Learn more resources at www.shaunamace.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.