The Smart Woman’s Guide To Winning Office Politics

“It’s seen as sneaky, but it doesn’t have to be. And whether you like it or not, politics are important in any office culture,” said Kari Reston, founder and CEO of Boredom to Boardroom, a company that helps young professionals with their careers, to Ruchika Tulshyan at Forbes.

It’s time women become comfortable with office politics.

Office politics is a game. When people discuss office politics, they’re usually talking about underhanded dealings, backdoor deals, and favoritism. But, office politics is also—put more simply—socially networking within a company.

At your law firm—as well as law firms around the world—there are groups of cliques, people who prefer to interact with one another exclusively in and out of the office. These relationships may form between colleagues, clients, or vendors.

To play the game, you need to know the players. So, admit that social networking and office politics are important. Then, make sure you know who are the lynchpin players in managing and manipulating professional relationships.

When you know the players, it will easier to play and—most importantly—win.

Promotion is a politics game. So, now you know who is responsible for professional promotions or bonuses. The question is, how well do you know them? Do you get along? How often do you interact?

Cultivating a relationship to win a promotion, at first glance, seems sneaky. However, cultivating relationships with superiors or people in important positions just helps you bring to their attention your hard work and accomplishments.

“One of the very best ways to connect with people is to offer to assist them in some way. Especially in these challenging economic times, there is no shortage of people who feel overwhelmed and could use some assistance,” said Nina Simosko from Nike, Inc., to Jo Miller for Women’s Leadership Coaching.

“If you are able to authentically connect with and assist folks with things of importance to them, then they will want to repay the favor and will be available to you when needed.”

Were you the senior associate on that high-profile case win? Waiting for somebody to hand you your promotion? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. People in a position of power are not always apprised of the inter-workings of a case matter.

An equity partner may recognize your name without realizing your critical role on his legal team. When you cultivate relationships with the people in power, they will know, first-hand, how many nights you spent at the office, how little sleep you obtained due to work, or how important your contribution was in winning the suit, settlement, or client.

Leadership is a politics game. Be vocal. Ask for assignments, promotions, or leadership roles. Take credit for your wins. You’ll only be viewed as a leader at your firm if you are already acting like one.

“You might be cheery, friendly, fun and likable at work, which is great. But is that the brand that’s going to get you to senior management? Maybe credibility, great analytic skills and strong communication abilities are what you actually want to be known for,” explains Reston.

Women tend to be afraid to “talk themselves up” for fear of looking like brown-nosers. But, their male counterparts are doing exactly that.

As a result, women tend to stay in firms where they’re likely underappreciated and underpromoted. “In my experience, women tend to stay longer than they should in a culture that is not a match, or in positions where a manager is putting a lid on their career development,” concludes Simosko.

“Building relationships and getting to know people better can do a lot to build appreciation of diverse of values and perspectives, so give that a genuine effort for at least a few months.”

For more information, attend C4CM’s online audio conference, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Winning at Office Politics on Friday, April 4, 2014, from 11:00 Am To 12:15 Pm Eastern time, featuring Kari Reston.

This power-packed session will explore the political challenges women face in the workplace, and will identify the attitudes and skills needed to address them successfully, including:

  • How to change your perception of office politics (it’s not a bad thing)
  • Tips to identify the types of power at play in your workplace
  • Communication techniques to help you gain allies, influence others, and build relationships (even with the most difficult people) ·
  • Important lessons on how to actively take the credit you deserve, and create an impactful personal brand · How and why to build a strong network

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