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Networking with the bigwigs to gain support for IT

As the saying goes, it's not who you know, it's who knows you. If you take this mantra to heart, you can take your IT initiatives – and your career – to a new level.

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The best way to become well known in your organization is to get out and network with the right people at the right times. This means the managers and executives that can make or break you.

Here are a few things you can do to get the ear of managers and executives, gain their respect and build strong relationships:

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  • Think about the people you need on your side. It's not always the most obvious ones. For instance, instead of making friends with the CIO or CTO, you may be just as well off fostering a relationship with your organization's operations manager, CFO, HR manager or legal counsel. Often, they're the people who have the real pull within the organization. They can help you get things done and eventually introduce you to others who can move things along. Spending time trying to develop relationships with people who have no pull or aren't going anywhere in the organization will likely just be an exercise in futility.
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  • Business and IT circles are tight. Find out where and who these people network with and you may very well have some common colleagues. Check LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, and Twitter to see who they mingle with and if you can make a connection that way. Attend events that they attend and rub elbows. You'll get the double benefit of being able to meet with them one on one and demonstrate that you take your work seriously by attending such events.
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  • Managers are often involved with charitable organizations, sports and other activities outside of work. It will behoove you to find out what these are and to get involved yourself with the animal rescue group they support or register for the upcoming golf tournament they're playing in and get to know them in a more relaxed setting.

Once you meet the managers and executives, get to know them better. Find out what you have in common and build your relationship on that. The other "work" stuff will come about when the time's right – maybe in a month or maybe in a year. No one said relationship building was easy.

Whatever you end up doing, just don't be too forceful or come across as desperate. Forcing yourself on others – especially managers and executives – will only push them away. Show them that you're truly interested in the business and committed to doing what it takes in IT to save money, make things more efficient and move the business ahead.

Once you have the right people on your side, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll build trust and respect with even more people. You'll feel like a million bucks and your job will suddenly not feel like work at all.

 

 
Kevin Beaver, is an information security consultant, keynote speaker and expert witness with Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments. Kevin has authored/co-authored seven books on information security, including Hacking For Dummies and Hacking Wireless Networks For Dummies (Wiley). He's also the creator of the Security on Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. Kevin can be reached at  kbeaver@principlelogic.com.
 


This was first published in October 2009

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