In most cases, when I hear people talk about networking they mean connecting with people who can get them to the right people, companies or information they need. That’s useful. (You might also want to check out this career ideas post about how to network at events )
But these connectors are only part of what you need to really succeed in your career, job, or job search. You need a full-scale community of support. People who do more than just connect you.
At the heart of that community are your VIPs for your career. You might think of them as your unofficial career coaching team because they are performing some of the key roles of any quality career coach.
Your career coaching team should include people who fill 5 of these career coaching roles:
1. Connectors—People who can get you to others you need to meet to get moving, get ahead or get a job. What most people see as their main career building community.
2. Advisors—People who are good sounding boards and can help you with big picture thinking and with thought-out opinions about what you want to do. These people are not afraid to disagree with you, but are still strongly supportive.
3. Idea people—Creatives with great new ways of looking at things to get you out of your rut—not necessarily advice, but new frameworks and perspectives.
4. Emotional Connectors—People who help you reconnect with your own passions, motivation, and optimism. After you talk with these people you are charged and ready to act.
5. Success Partners—Another name for a success partner is an accountability partner. You typically need only one. I’ll be writing more about how to have success with a success partner in an upcoming post (or if you have Guide to Lifework you can read about them in detail there).
Can one person play more than one role at different times? Definitely. But it’s best to have a number of people who you can call on for each role (except the Success Partner).
To get going, look carefully through your list of contacts and note in one central place the names of at least one key person who can serve in each of these roles.
Having this list will remind you of the community you have to help you no matter what happens. It will also make it easy to remember who you can contact, which mamkes it a lot more likely you will benefit from other peoples help.
For instance, when you’re feeling discouraged, you may not think of some of the people you listed as emotional supporters, but if you have a list, that will prod you to call one of them. Or if you are stuck for new ideas, you may keep banging away on your own, but you can look at your list and realize you can contact one or more of your idea people.
Once you have this list of career VIPs, you can expand your list well beyond them. You can also work with social media friends for a range of advice or ideas or connections too. But don’t assume the “wisdom of crowds” as good as that can be, can replace that one-on-one support that these key people of your community can provide.
© 2009 by Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint this article by including this entire copyright notice, including a link to this site (http://choosingacareerblog.com).