Building a strong, dynamic network is a must for every professional. From finding the right job, earning our dream promotion, starting a business, or developing our skill sets, our network is an invaluable asset. In fact, our network is often the key to our successes.
But not all networks are built the same. Simple exchanges of business cards and the occasional email won’t cut it in today’s connected world. But neither will a hyper-connected echo chamber of like-minded individuals. By diversifying our connections and crafting bridges that we normally wouldn’t, be open countless doors to develop and succeed.
We’ve created a list of five types of individuals you need in your network today. These people should be the core of your network, always there to help, critique, and teach you wherever you are in your career journey.
The Superconnector is the heart of any network. They know everyone, and everyone knows them. With this community, they make introductions a lifestyle, connecting individuals that can benefit each other.
By having a strong connector in your network, it’s possible to further grow your network and reach out to the right people when you need to. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach, highlights the fact that we will always need to expand our network, and a connector can be a key piece. Career changes, entrepreneurial ventures, and professional development all require different individuals. Being able to quickly and effectively connect with them is priceless.
But why stop there? Becoming a thoughtful Super Connector is something we can all do. With the help of a personal CRM app such as UpHabit and its Introductions feature, making connections from your phone has never been easier. By focusing your network around you and your community, you reap all the benefits of a Super Connector without the need for others.
Mentors are often associated with the early stages of our careers; our first boss, favourite professor, or family friend, that helped guide us during our entry into the workforce. But mentors can be useful throughout our careers, whether we are starting a new business, making a career change, or just need advice along the way.
Career coach Ashley Stahl tells Time Magazine that the best mentors are those that believe in you and guide you through moments of distress. They may not always be information-based support, such as career advice, but emotional support as well.
The Up and Comer
Just like it’s important to have an individual we can look up to and learn from their experience, keeping a strong “up and comer” in your network can teach you plenty. We oftentimes only view those with more experience, knowledge, or higher position as the only ones that can help us. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
HR expert and entrepreneur Lars Schmidt calls this “reverse mentorship”. As we grow into our careers, it’s easy to lose the unique perspectives we had when we were just starting out. Connecting and working with an up and comer gives us a peek into this new youthful perspective and can help teach us a thing or two. And learning goes both ways; there are plenty of things an up and comer and mentor can learn from each other. Information doesn’t always go from the top down.
We’ve all hit bumps in our professional and personal lives. But with the help of our friends, family, and even network, we can get through them and continue to succeed. That’s why having a booster in your network is so important for your professional success.
Author and leadership coach John Eades explains the importance of boosters as people that encourage us during difficult moments. They can be family, friends, or close colleagues that genuinely want to see you succeed. Whether they encourage you to push for a promotion or continue to have faith in your latest business venture, the boosters are the final push we need to get over any bump.
Just like we need positive motivation and encouragement from Boosters, we also have to be grounded by those in your network. That’s why career coaches Nando Rodriguez and Charlene Narcelles recommend finding a Realist for your network.
The Realist shouldn’t be a pessimist or hater; instead, they should be an individual that wants to see you succeed but is able to provide constructive criticism to help you grow. The Realist won’t shut down an idea but will help you modify it and improve it using their experience and knowledge. By doing so, the Realist balances out the Booster and ensures that you stay grounded and realistic in your aspirations.
All too often, we associate a good network with size; the more people you know, the better. But the reality is that the quality of your connections is the most important part of any community. Finding the right individuals, from the connectors to the realists, will set you and your network up for success and help you navigate your unique career journey.