A Wheaties – Microbrewery partnership encourages us to get out of our comfort zone

Wheaties! The breakfast of champions is now…the beer of champions.

In Fortune, “Now you can have your Wheaties all day long”, on August 12, 2015, we learn that Wheaties has partnered with a craft brew house to create Hefeweizen beer called HefeWheaties.  What do Wheaties and this beer have in common? Quite simply: wheat.  This unique arrangement brought together two uncommon partners: a multi-national consumer package goods titan and a small/medium-size brewing business.

Finding commonalities in our professional, associative and personal relationships can also generate partnerships to help us get promoted at work, advance ideas, grow practice areas and raise our profile in our industry or profession.  How can you find your “Wheaties partnership”? Let’s look at how you can be a “champion” at uncovering commonalities in your relationships and get out of your comfort zone to move yourself to the next level in 2016.

Aim high! – Have you considered getting a meeting with your CEO? Too often when emerging executives are looking for opportunities in their organization, they overlook reaching out to their own senior executive colleagues. While this might seem intimidating, you will often find that senior executives very open to career conversations.  You will also recognize that they achieved their success, in part, because of their ability to reach out to senior executives when they were more junior. Who do you admire in your organization, and what plans will you make to set up a meeting?

Seek commonality through curiosity – What is the “wheat” that you share with the person?  People focus too much on “being on message” or “sounding smart”, when the focus should be on questions around the executive’s professional interests, background and outlook.  There might be a project they have been thinking about but have not had the chance to fully get off the ground. Leave the conversation with some potential next steps and areas to follow-up.

Own the follow-up and embrace radio silence – Getting a meeting with a busy executive will take time, and the follow-up could be equally lengthy. Recognize that you will need patience as this relationship evolves.  Emails will go unread.  Phone calls will not get returned.  But if you are politely persistent, you may have a chance to grow a relationship that could leads to important partnerships over time.

2016 will be a great year. Go set up that meeting!