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How to Make Friends with a Higher-Up

Note from Phil: What follows is a guest post by Alexandra Levit, Author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. This is a fantastic book if you’re looking to move up in corporate America or in life. The myths debunked are ones you’ve likely heard for much of your career. This article is one of the best ways you can improve your career, by making friends with a higher-up.

Anyone who has been in the business world a while knows that your success absolutely depends on who you know, and who’s in your corner.

In addition to cultivating a strong relationship with your manager, it’s also a good move to form solid friendships with other executives. Alerting senior people to your stellar work and results is one way to foster these relationships.

You should also attend company-sponsored events, sign up for volunteer or extra-curricular activities, and organization-wide initiatives that will provide access to people you might not have the opportunity to interact with otherwise.

When meeting an executive, maintain a clean and professional appearance, shake hands firmly, and offer him your business card. Even if you’re nervous, watch that you don’t talk his ear off. Instead, mention one or two points that show that you’ve been keeping up with company developments and/or her career. Learn what he’s working on and brainstorm ways you can contribute. Follow up on all in person meetings with an e-mail the next day so that he remembers you.

Of course, executive blogs and social media sites like,, and are goldmines when it comes to establishing high level connections inside and outside your organization. Follow the executives you want to get to know better closely online, provide them with useful links and industry updates, and comment on their posts.

If you learn that an executive is attending or speaking at a third party event, let her know that you’ll see her there. I’ll offer the usual caveat here, however – if you’re going to use social media as a forum for engaging executives, make sure that everything on your profiles speaks to your image as a driven and engaged professional who’s going places.

Want more secrets for getting ahead in a difficult job market and stressful workplace? Check out Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success.

About the author: Alexandra Levit is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and consultant on workplace trends affecting modern employees. Recently named Money Magazine’s Online Career Expert of the Year, Alexandra has published six books and worked with clients around the globe from Microsoft to the Obama administration.

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