FROM THE TRENCHES: How to Build Relationships With The Leaders at Your Company


RePosted from the LinkedIn Learning Blog
By Paul PetroneApril 29, 2019

“Work politics” is one of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace, according to our research. And that’s not completely surprising. I mean, who really wants to play politics at work?

Learn how to build relationships with senior leaders and executives at your organization.

Yet here’s the reality – while some organizations are (much) better at it than others, to some degree, we all have to play politics at work. Although this doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. In her LinkedIn Learning course Managing Office Politics, Instructor Dorie Clark explains how to authentically manage office politics, so you don’t sell your soul, but do help your career.

One of her most interesting lessons within the course – how to connect with senior leaders at your organization. If done well, connections to senior leaders at your organization will help you:

  • Get promoted.
  • Get put on more exciting projects.
  • Get more of your ideas green-lit.
  • Establish yourself as someone who is worth investing more in.
  • Get you a big job somewhere else (after all, leaders don’t stay at organizations forever, and when they leave they generally like to take people with them).

And on and on. The point – building a relationship with senior leaders can supercharge your career.

Instructor Dorie Clark explains how to make connections with senior people at your organization in a clip from her LinkedIn Learning course, Managing Office Politics.

3 Tips for Building Relationships With Leaders at Your Organization

So, how do you build relationships with senior leaders at your organization? Clark recommends:

1. Find some way to meet them.

Obvious, but to have a relationship with someone, they need to know who you are. And there is a good chance senior leaders at your company don’t know who you are.

So, how do you make yourself known to them? There are many ways; here’s a few Clark suggested:

  • Join a committee or a project they are leading.
  • Show up to a meeting they are chairing early and introduce yourself.
  • Send them a note if their team has a big win.

And on and on. There are likely ways you can interact with a senior stakeholder, if you put your mind to it.

2. Next, make yourself relevant.

Having that person know you is the first step. The second – getting them to realize what you do and how it’s relevant to them.

There’s a few ways you can do this. Since you have some relationship with them, you could ask for advice on a project you are leading (although you should do this strategically; i.e. make the ask small). Better, if they are leading a big project, let them know how you can help.

Ideally, you find some way to match your strengths to something they care about, and help them in some way. If you do that, you move beyond just that person knowing you exist to them understanding the value you bring.

3. Keep the connection warm.

If you do those first two steps, don’t lose it all by never talking to the person again.

Instead, keep the connection warm. Don’t do this by continually asking for things – that’ll get old, fast. Instead, a few other ways to keep it warm are, according to Clark:

  • If they have a blog or an active social media account, follow it and comment/share their posts.
  • If they are part of some group or club at work, see if you can join it.
  • If they are running a project or asking for volunteers for some new test, join.

And on and on. You don’t need to talk to them every day. But find ways to stay connected with them.

Building these connections might not pay off tomorrow or even within the year. But, in the long term, building relationships with senior leaders has the potential to be the most valuable investment you make into your career.