To get a salary increase, we have to be good at what we do. It is important to not only have a solid track record, but also be able to communicate how your work contributes to the goals of your company.
It's also important to surround yourself with the right people. Regardless of your title, your position, or how much is in your bank account, you can build a great network and develop contacts who can help you grow your career and earn more.
Start by thinking expansively about the people in your professional and personal life. The value of your network stems from connecting with people with different professions, backgrounds, cultures, titles, areas of expertise, and degrees of separation. They can be industry experts, classmates, colleagues, cousins, people with titles or influence, as well as those who have none of the former — but just know other people and happen to be natural matchmakers.
For job and overall career growth, a great place to start is by building a strong internal network.
This network is the one we build inside your workplace and industry. It includes supervisors, management, co-workers, and, equally important, the support staff such as assistants, custodians, and receptionists. They give us access to the critical, and often overlooked, inside information that is passed along the "informal grapevine."
All of this is key as you build your case for raises and promotions.
Before you go in for a meeting with your boss, take these steps:
- Do your homework about salary stats and pay scale.
- Assess your work input. Ask team members and colleagues for feedback on what you do well.
- Prepare your stats, facts, and "ask."
- Have a number in mind. Know what salary and benefits you want.
- Practice so that you convey confidence. If your request for a raise is rebuffed, ask this question: "What would you suggest I do to increase my compensation in this position?" Take note of the answer.
As the old saying goes, if you don't ask, the answer is always "no."
No matter what the outcome of that meeting, it is always helpful to have a strong network of both internal and external contacts as you pursue your goals.
There are several simple and practical steps you can take to lay the groundwork in your office to help you earn more money and gain more responsibility.
- Be nice to everyone, regardless of title or position. That includes giving a smile and saying hello. You may think this is old school but acknowledging people is savvy, thoughtful, and kind.
- Be visible. Show up at company events, after-work gatherings, and work-related functions.
- Engage with your co-workers. Ask them what their jobs require and pay attention to their responses.
- Create a peer network of co-workers who share ideas, information, and support. Identify those who are promoted, assigned to new projects, or have negotiated a salary increase. Invite them for coffee or lunch and ask them what worked for them and for suggestions. Take good notes!
- Raise your hand and volunteer for projects. This is a good idea even if those projects are outside your comfort zone. Remember, if something isn't your strong suit, there's always a class, a book, or Professor YouTube.
- Join groups. The right company-sponsored group for you could be Toastmasters, fun runners, a book club, a softball team, or some other option.
- Meet your counterparts in other departments. Slack and similar software may make group communication more efficient, but building connection and relationships benefits from face-to-face interactions.
Video by Courtney Stith
- Attend professional meetings, conferences, and summits.
- Learn how to work a room in a manner that suits you.
- Follow up with the people you meet.
- Stay in touch. That can mean sharing a note, an article, or information about a program of interest with people — both online and offline — especially when you don't need anything from them. That, in and of itself, makes it easier to ask for information, a favor or help later on.
- Refer, recommend, and introduce people in your networks.
- Keep people in the loop. Make them aware of the progress and result of their lead, contact, or a referral.
- Embrace all people. Not just the "right" people. Doing so would be short-sighted and wrong. You never know which person knows of a new start-up, works for a company, has a contact or lead or a cousin who can be helpful.
Those who are best at networking reflect the spirit of genuine joy in their "giving." In fact, they don't even know they're networking. They naturally refer, match, recommend, and bring people together to benefit, support, and help each other. That's what life is about.
Susan RoAne was named by Forbes.com as "one of the networking experts to follow." She speaks to corporate and convention audiences on how to work rooms and start maintain and build business relationships. Her books include "How to Work a Room," "The Secrets of Savvy Networking," "What Do I Say Next?" and "How to Make Your Own Luck." This article is based on both "How to Work a Room" and "The Secrets of SAVVY Networking" by Susan RoAne.
More from Grow: