Getting someone in your network to the position of Advocate can take quite a bit of hard work. Building the relationship, creating trust and demonstrating value can take months, if not years. Of course, that presupposes premeditated action — it is more likely that you just landed there by chance.
And doesn’t it feel great noticing how an individual promotes “brand you” to everyone they meet? Finding out through others that “so and so” has been telling everyone how fast you deliver, or how quickly you cut through the trivia and get down to business. Even more rewarding is when they are heard to be recommending you for inclusion on exciting new projects.
Because it is more likely that you happened upon your Advocates by chance, you might like to do a little re-evaluation to make sure you have the right people doing the job for you. To get your thinking off to a quick start, here are a few interview-type questions you could (but probably never will) ask of a potential Advocate…
- How influential are you in the groups where I want to succeed?
- Do you currently advocate anyone else with skills and talents similar to mine?
- How many people are you currently advocating on a regular basis?
- How secure is your current position/role?
- How well are you performing in the organisation as a whole?
- What makes you powerful around here?
- How well connected are you among the powerful people in this place?
- What are your plans for the future?
- Do you have any powerful political enemies?
- What is your track record of advocating people? Can you give me some examples?
- What’s in it for you if you advocate me?
- What could I do to make it even easier for you to advocate me?
- Do you feel you need me to advocate you in return, or are you cool just doing it for me?
Questions 2 and 3 raise an important point. Anybody who is well disposed to advocate good people will have a finite amount of time, attention and opportunity for this activity. If they think someone else is nearly as good as you, they may promote your competitor or, more likely, just give a weak mention of both of you. If you stand head and shoulders above everyone else in their mind, you will be in a strong position to grab the air time and, likely, their enthusiastic endorsement.
If, as you work through these questions, you start to believe that you need to fire a few, or at least demote them, how are you going to replace them? Developing an “Advocate Acquisition Plan” is a good career enhancing approach to take. Recognition of the need, coupled with the stakeholder influence process, should be enough to get you going, but I will probably write more on this later in the year, so watch this space.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
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