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Cast a wide net for allies

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Career climbers hitch their wagon to a star, right? Not necessarily.

While it’s smart to forge alliances with a handful of influential leaders across your organization, leaning too heavily on them can backfire. You’re on safer ground casting a wider net and wooing more allies.

Within your work unit, you may bond with like-minded colleagues and develop friendships with them. That’s fine, but beware of growing too close to certain people while excluding others from your inner circle.

If you repeatedly join the same core group at after-work happy hours, volunteer outings and softball games, you might miss opportunities to branch out and meet more co-workers. What’s worse, by aligning yourself with one clique, you separate yourself from the rest of the workforce. And you never

know when you might need one of those “outsiders” to champion your cause.

Moreover, personnel changes can leave you out in the cold. If you spend almost all your time with the same people—and your best pals suddenly move on—then you may lack a strong connection to those who remain.

To avoid getting in too deep with a chosen few, make an extra effort to expand your network. Seek out different groups in the cafeteria and join them for lunch. At meetings, sit next to colleagues you don’t know as well—and engage in friendly outreach. Rather than email someone in an isolated part of the building, walk over and chat with that person—and mingle with others in that far-removed unit.

— Adapted from “Career Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making,” Libby Kane, www.learnvest.com.

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