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Water Cooler

Information and insight about your career and the workplace at large
February 2005

News and Views

Pause, breathe, and bite your tongue before saying something inappropriate at work. Here, five common gaffes and why they reflect poorly on you.

Salary raises are being phased out in favor of earned bonuses, reports Career Details

It's easier to get to the corner office these days according to a new study that compares Fortune 100 executives in 1980 with their counterparts in 2001. Today's chief executives are more likely to be younger, female, and graduates of non-Ivy League schools. They also get there faster, and are more likely to be hired from the outside. More (registration may be required)


10 ways to maximize your salary , including the tried-and-true (like direct depositing your check) and the not-so-obvious (like asking for travel reimbursement rather than travel allowances). Details

Have you tried to start a mentoring program at work and been told there just aren't any resources? If the answer's yes, give your boss a copy of my article, "Forgoing the formalities of mentoring," which appeared in the December 10, 2004, issue of Association Trends. Your boss just may be inspired to start an informal mentoring program instead of a formal one. Get the article by emailing me and requesting the PDF file.

Still available in case you missed it last month: an index listing the 62 leading-edge briefs that appeared in WaterCooler in 2004. Briefs on conquering fear of bragging, tips for networking (and networking mistakes), reinventing your career, Fast Company's salary calculator, 15-minute summaries of business books, blogs in business, defining management excellence, and more. Get your free copy by emailing me. Just let me know whether you'd like MS Word or PDF format.

NEW: WaterCooler Professional—The Miniseries

In 2005, "Making It Work for You" evolves to "WC Professional," a miniseries of action steps to being your own mentor. Follow this 12-month plan and by January of 2006, you'll have taken a big step towards being your own best advocate in the workplace.

February: Commit to building the relationships that will enhance your career.

Start by thinking about how you can network INSIDE and OUTSIDE your organization.

Here are some pointers from an article I wrote for Women in Technology's Winter 2005 issue of WIT Word.

1. Network both inside and outside your organization. Networking on the inside helps create relationships that help you get the job done. Networking on the outside broadens your perspective and in so doing, enhances your value to your company.

2. Network internally across the white space on the organizational chart. Networking across the white space widens your base of expertise about the company and lets you connect with others in the organization you might not ordinarily meet. One approach is to solve a problem that surfaces monthly or quarterly and aggravates everyone, only to disappear until the next month or quarter. "The employees who become known are the ones who are creative about solving these problems," Waymon says.

3. Network externally by joining professional organizations, listservs, and blogs. But remember that networking is a contact sport. You must show up (in person or in cyberspace) AND interact.

4. Be strategic about the "types" of people with whom you network. Management consultant and author Jeffrey P. Davidson (Blow Your Own Horn, Berkley Pub Group, 1991) suggests diversifying your network for maximum effectiveness. Think "maintainers" (key people, including experts, in your own and related fields who help you get your job done) and "propellers" (mentors, role models, hubs, challengers, and promoters/recommenders who "lift" you and encourage your visibility).

5. Be organic and "real." Treat work as an extension of the rest of your life-look at your contacts as people and potential friends rather than as "great contacts." It's a paradox: you must network to make contacts, but having contacts only works if they're relationships founded on the principle of give and let give.

Good luck, and feel free to share what you're up to in an email.

PS: Word to the wise: Women in Technology takes networking seriously. It's a great organization for making contacts and for enhancing your career.

WaterCooler (WC) Personal: A Word about the "Work" of Networking

The energy you have available for networking is likely affected by whether you're an introvert or an extrovert. So be smart and find a style that "gets you out there" but maximizes the energy you have for connecting.

The "work" of networking can happen in multiple ways. For example, as an introvert I sometimes forgo the cocktail party-type networking mixers and choose to work behind the scenes on a committee.

Remember that you, too, have options when it comes to networking styles and events.

If you're an extrovert, have coffee with a coworker (preferably one in a different department), and learn about his/her roles and professional interests. Keep an eye out for information (like a magazine article) that would be of interest to that person, and pass it along.

If you're an introvert, occasionally bring breakfast (pastries, rolls) for your department, or keep a filled "healthy snack" jar in your cubicle that's accessible to your coworkers. It's an easy way to start conversations that eventually develop into relationships.

In any case, set a realistic goal of how many "events" you can handle or people you'd like to meet each month, and work at building those relationships.

And remember, once you've made the first connection, the rest really do get easier.

Coming Up

Workshops and Book Signings

40Plus of Greater Washington, February 7, 9:45 am. Contact: Kathy Shuman, 301.424.1763;

Women in Technology Advocacy Group, February, time and date TBD. Contact: Julie Thompson, 703.449.0893;

The Women's Center Annual Leadership Conference, March 12, Tysons Corner, VA. Contact: The Women's Center, 703.281.2657.