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Start by recognising that the corporate ladder is really more of an indoor climbing wall, that with the tenuous footholds and ever-present risk of a public fall.
The person at the bottom holding your rope? That would be your immediate supervisor, who should be a partner to provide opportunities for you to interact with more senior people, says John Beeson, author of The Unwritten Rules: The 6 Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level (R313, Kalahari). But avoid creating the impression that you’re trying to bypass your supervisor on your ascent. One of those growth opportunities could involve working with your boss to take on new responsibilities that also involve upper managers. A good example would be an interdepartmental team charged with a project that benefits the company as a whole, like improving customer satisfaction or increasing productivity. No such task force? Show some chutzpah and propose creating your own, says Beeson.
Do the upper managers have blogs or Twitter accounts? Make thoughtful responses to executives’ postings and develop a relationship electronically. But don’t overdo it, Beeson says. “Your goal is to intrigue managers so they reach out to you.”