No matter what your role is, what level you are within an organization, where you are in your career path, or to what degree you are happy with where you are personally and professionally, your network has tremendous influence over your career, your impact and influence for today and going forward. In this age where communication can be pervasive and instantaneous, given how connected we are globally and the tools we use daily to connect with others (from e-mail to social media to videos), it is ever more critical that we message precisely (a topic for another blog) what we want to the audience and network we prescribe. In considering your network and who you would like to target which message to, consider including these ten people as an essential part of the network you build:
- You Mom or other Cheerleader, someone who would stand behind you no matter what, and insist that you live by the values under which she has raised you. This is a maternal figure or cheerleader someone who believes in you, and gives you the confidence, fortitude and inspiration to keep going, especially when times are tough; and to appreciate the people in your life, the accomplishments you’ve already achieved, and the values you stand you. Having a mother figure in your network gives you the sense of self and confidence in self to insist on excellence and persistently reach and grow.
- Your Dad (or Mom) or an older, wiser Advocate, someone who always raises the bar for you, and insists that you bring honor and success to your family and yourself, while providing for those who rely on you. This is the paternal figure (who could also be your mom) who challenges you to be all that you can be, advocates for you and your higher purpose, and helps you to provide for others, and stand for the values with which you were raised. Having a father figure in your network will help you feel comfortable with who you are, what you stand for, and understand how to reach beyond your current circle of people, your current goals.
- Your Best Childhood Friend, or the equivalent, who may or may not get what you are doing now, but knows that you will always be there for him and her, and that your purpose, passion and values are clear.
- A Devil’s Advocate, who is always poking holes at your ideas, to ensure the validity of what you decide to do in the end.
- A Hero who has opened the world of possibilities in new ways, and stretched your thinking about what’s possible.
- An Older Sibling who is always encouraging, sometimes contrarian, yet also always raising the bar for you. He or she may be exactly like you, or nothing like you, but they have witnessed your personal development and professional growth and will help you find that true north.
- A Mentor with skills and information not necessarily in your repertoire, who sees your potential and facilitates your success. He or she might help you see things from the other point of view, and give you ideas and recommendations and resources beyond your field of vision. She or he might at times be that hero or devil’s advocate or cheerleader, and coaches and encourages resilience, fortitude and resourcefulness. Good mentors make great accountability partners, while always staying on your side, sometimes with tough love.
- An Executive Sponsor who can open doors for you at the top executive suites, but only if he is she thinks that you’re ready for it. She or he would stand beside you and help facilitate your success and recover from inevitable missteps while coaching and prepping you for the next opportunity. He or she would take a chance on you, and open doors for you, and also call you to task if you don’t deliver.
- An Adviser who has broken the ground in some way in a specific business or technology area, and can help you think through the business and tech opportunities, challenges and implications. Part mentor, part partner, part devil’s advocate and cheerleader, an adviser could be very hands-off, or definitely hands-on with the day-to-day business. The better ones are hands-on, but not necessarily hungry for a home run.
- A Partner or Spouse who doesn’t think or act like you, or play and work in the same circles as you, who is not afraid of providing candid feedback, as well as implicit support. The best ones know when to play which of the roles above to push you while supporting you implicitly.
So which of these people are in your network? Who do you still need in the network? Who else should be on the must-have list? We invite your questions and comments about your marketing and leadership successes and challenges.