How to Create Evangelists
Build career champions that will help you grow and find opportunities
When I was in university, I wanted to land a role in User Experience design. But I didn’t know anyone who was hiring.
I caught up with a few friends during the summer and told them about all of the weekend design projects I was working on.
I showed them my portfolio and told them I was looking for an internship in the space.
One of them was impressed. She appreciated that I was self-taught and already had a portfolio of projects.
Later that summer, she told me that her company was hiring UX design interns and she’d be willing to refer me.
That company was Microsoft and it was a pivotal role for my career.
Looking back many years later, how did I really land that role?
The answer is that I accidentally created an evangelist.
An evangelist is someone who respects you, knows your aspirations and thinks of you when a relevant opportunity crosses their desk.
I’ve since learned that evangelists are the most important relationships to foster in your career. Evangelists can help you:
Get your next promotion
Secure funding, sales, partnerships or talent for your startup
Connect with pivotal job opportunities
Find mentorship from experts in your field
We’ve all naturally created evangelists in our careers. But I’ve started to notice that there’s a process for creating evangelists more intentionally. Here it is:
1. Build credibility
Aim to build credibility with someone by delivering exceptional impact and demonstrating strong character through repeated interactions.
Exceptional impact means that you are delivering strong results in your core role and delivering business impact outside of your role.
As a product manager, this involves executing well and growing your scope (a topic I’ve dived into here and here).
These results need to be paired with strong character. This means that people think of you as ethical, reliable and trustworthy.
There aren’t shortcuts to demonstrating character, but one mantra to keep in mind is “Show, Don’t Tell”.
You can’t tell people that you are reliable, you need to show them they can count on you over time.
In brief, building credibility is about delivering exceptional results while proving that you have a strong moral character. It’s not easy, but its worth it.
If you feel like you’ve done that, it’s time for the next step.
2. Share your goals
For people to evangelize you, they need to know your goals. Otherwise, you won’t be top of mind when relevant opportunities come up.
Communicating your aspirations can be hard.
Here are some templates for how to share your goals with those that you’ve established credibility with:
My goal is to become the manager for this division. I’ve started to take on more managerial responsibilities recently, but I know I have a lot to learn. Can we work together to find what experiences I should aim to develop over the next 6-12 months to set myself up for this role?
Just an FYI, but I’ve been doing some design consulting on the side. If you know any early stage companies that want to contract a UX designer, send them my portfolio!
3. Evangelize Others
Life is a repeated game. Helping someone today can open doors for you tomorrow.
So evangelize your friends, peers and even superiors. Understand their career goals and find ways to connect them to opportunities that matter to them.
While it’s easy to evangelize friends and peers, evangelizing your superiors is less intuitive. Here are three ways it can be done:
Nominate them for opportunities like a speaking gig or an award.
Promote their work by celebrating their accomplishments or giving their managers positive feedback about them.
Help them hire by introducing or referring people in your network to join their team. This is a big vote of confidence and they will appreciate the endorsement!
Creating evangelist is a skillset that will accelerate your career.
It also forces you to build credibility, be transparent about your goals and help others along the way.
As a next step, think of 1-2 people that would make for great evangelists.
Find ways to build credibility with them and form a strong relationship. From there, share with them your career goals and find opportunities to evangelize them.
Let me know how it goes!
🔥 Exploring new roles (actively or casually)?
Apply to be a part of my Product Collective — a reverse-job board where top companies apply to you.
It’s invite-only, curated by me and tailored for PMs with 2+ years of experience. Just create a profile and let jobs come to you.
Companies will subscribe to get access to members looking around. I’ll personally vet each opportunity to make sure that there is high signal-to-noise.
It’s free with no obligations, just upside. Let me help you land your perfect next role by applying below.
If you’re looking to hire the best PM talent in the community, sign up here.
If you’re new to Product Life, subscribe below for concise, actionable and often surprising lessons for product managers.
Until next time,