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Tips for Building Relationships that Help You Succeed

colleagues working together to complete giant puzzle

Photo credit: (nazarkru)

We recently asked Megan Beauregard, Enel North America’s Chief Legal Officer, for her tips on building relationships that help you succeed. Here are excerpts from the interview. 

Q: We all know that relationships are crucial to career success and advancement. But some people feel more naturally adept at relationship skills than others. Would you describe yourself as a natural relationship-builder, or is this something you had to work on – and if so, how did you do it? 

A: I am a natural relationship builder. Lawyers are inherently social, and I am no exception.  As a collaborator in the truest sense, I enjoy celebrating wins with the team around me and problem-solving with others. There is no better team-building.  

I always stress the importance of building strategic relationships, especially with more junior members of our company. The best way to build these relationships is simply by being your authentic self and being a person who values authenticity in others.  

One tip to try, which I use as a goal for myself, is to find commonality with every person you interact with. This approach leads to a more successful and enjoyable partnership.  

Q: When people think about developing relationship skills that can help them advance, some of them believe that means they have to be a specific type of person – namely, outgoing, personable, even gregarious. But as Susan Cain has taught us, being a good relationship-builder does not require that we be extroverted. What are some of the quieter relationship skills you find effective? 

A: I agree. We all have different relationship-building approaches, and there is no right or wrong way. The key to developing this skill and being effective is simply being open to it.  

For me, I appreciate those colleagues who tend to have quieter traits and give great focus to those one-on-one relationships where they work to make genuine connections versus small talk with many. An effective way to do this is simply by stating the facts or the root of a problem, which only sometimes requires a robust conversation. As we frequently find ourselves in a virtual workplace, effectively communicating via email and DMs can level the communication playing field and be an excellent skill for some of our quieter colleagues.  

Beyond just relationship building, I value the team around me who can study a problem, absorb all the details, and dive deep into possible solutions. It’s been my experience that some of our more technical team members tend to be on the quieter side. Yet, their analytical skills, technical abilities, and precision are requisite for business success. I frequently approach these colleagues for help understanding new and different views for presenting data in ways that reach broader audiences.  

There is a role and a place for colleagues who are more comfortable staying on the quieter side, whether in the day-to-day business or building relationships.  

Q: Would you share the story of one relationship that has contributed to your career advancement?

A: There have been so many that it is hard to pick just one! I am truly fortunate; many people have helped in my success throughout my career. The most significant impact on my career was initiated by my prior boss, who ensured that upon his retirement, I would have the opportunity to take his place as General Counsel at the company.  I spent many years working with him and learning how general counsels are impactful as advocates and risk managers for a company.  While I believe my work supported my rise to the General Counsel position, it sometimes takes the incumbent to secure the pathway. It goes back to building those strategic relationships at work and learning firsthand from those in your desired role.  

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about how remote and hybrid work has negatively affected work relationships. What should people who still work remotely, even part-time, do to cultivate work relationships effectively?

A: It is impossible to create relationships and advance if people do not know who you are and what you are doing. While the pandemic showed that we can accomplish our main tasks remotely, it can be extra challenging to accommodate soft skills and relationship building in the same setting.  Some ways to do that are by making the extra effort to schedule time with others to check in, collaborate, have a virtual coffee, or just say hello.  

My advice to remote and hybrid employees is to maintain consistent meetings with your strategic work partners and leadership and come prepared to those touchpoints with an outline of what you want to discuss and accomplish. Show them what you are working on, bring your ideas to the table, and strengthen the relationship. In my leadership role, I constantly highlight high performers who may need to be visible to my peers. Having such people on the radar is essential to ensuring the engagement and advancement of critical employees. 

Finally, when the opportunity arises to attend in-person events by your company, take full advantage.  

Q: Finally, let’s talk about mentors. If you were just getting started or in a mid-level position, what would you look for in a mentor today? 

A: It’s essential to have a mentor who believes in you and can help you refine your actions to best position yourself for success and advancement. Look for people you naturally interact with, maybe a few years or positions ahead of you, and are fearless in singing your praises to their peer group within the organization or industry. You will want to be honest with your mentor about your challenges and desires, so finding someone you can talk to about solutions and decisions is critical to making it a successful relationship.  

Megan Beauregard

Megan Beauregard is the Chief Legal Officer of Enel North America. Enel is the clean energy leader tackling climate change by creating a world that runs on 100% clean electricity.

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