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How to "Huff-and-Puff-Proof" Your Career

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The third little pig had the right idea. How can you help your career to be made of bricks, not sticks? Follow Karen Otazo's advice on overcoming career obstacles and organizational roadblocks by building a strong "relationship house."

Build on Relationship Bedrock

One of my favorite children’s stories is the Three Little Pigs. In the story, the big bad wolf gets two easy meals by blowing down the pigs’ houses made of straw and sticks. When he gets to the third pig’s home made of brick, though, he hyperventilates trying to blow down the house. So much for a third meal of the other white meat.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen people build professional relationships as if they were erecting houses made of sticks or straw, with a thin façade:

  • Dan built a less-than-trustworthy reputation for himself.
  • Sue was viewed as a rude jerk by some people in the office.
  • Bill saw networking as something that only codependent weaklings did.

More often than not, the lack of focus on relationships hurts a career, causing someone to have to rebuild his or her "relationship house" by healing old wounds and changing bad habits. Not a pretty picture—and often completely avoidable.

Maybe your relationship house has been blown down, or you’re building a house of sticks or straw through poor relationship management. Perhaps you think you just don’t have time for that stuff.

Think again.

There are three easy ways to build your relationship house of brick: Build trust, mind your manners, and network regularly. These three behaviors will make a big difference in your professional life. Make the time for them every day.

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