How to forge relationships to grant your success

Today  people are very much  focused on success.  They  want to succeed in work, in social life  in family, etc. Much  of this culture requires us to  chose partners to achieve what  we have projected as goals. When thinking about career success you need to think in terms of complexity.  That  means that  during the process of your career plan execution you will encounter many opportunities and navigate lots of change.  You will also  need to enlist others able to help  you in your journey. 

BUILD YOUR DEVELOPMENTAL  NETWORK

Traditionally, employees navigated their careers with help from managers and their organization’s human resources department. Or they participated in formal networking and mentoring programs. These are still valid sources of help, but today you need to do more.  You must not wait your  interests. Instead, you must focus on  proactively seek connections and work to sustain them by building developmental network.Look at this developmental  network as number of individuals you trust and can turn to for advice and guidance on exploring new opportunities. You must also  understand that  these career advisors can come in different forms. They  can be members of your network  who provide information and discuss career opportunities with  you. They  can also  be mentors from inside or outside your company  or even industry, who have agreed to give you intense feedback, advice and encouragement. Last, but not least, these people can be sponsors ready  to invest in you and help  you advance.

A Good developmental network provides instrumental and personal support. People offering instrumental  support can give you  advice and assistance about career goals. People who offer personal  support can help  you  develop  as a person by  going through  different situations like conflicts, work-life balancing etc.

One of the common mistakes, most people make is to  focus on building networks that  provide only  instrumental  support. To have a good working developmental  network, you might need to consider including people from all  spheres of your work and life. When building it consider including leaders in your organization, peers, members of professional groups, junior people, able to provide you  with  fresh  perspectives, people who  know you  well(as old friends for example) and are ready  to give you honest feedback.

The people in your network will play different roles:

  • Information sources about professional opportunities
  • Nurturers who  support you in your way to building confidence and overcoming setbacks
  • Allies who  promote your talents and reputation to others
  • Role models for career decisions and pathways
  • Friendly  critics who provide honest feedback 

GROW YOUR DEVELOPMENTAL  NETWORK

While you build your developmental network, you must invest time to support it. It’s easy to get caught up in daily work and forget to develop new connections. To make cultivating and expanding your network a habit you will need to implement some actions:

  • Be curious about others
  • Stay in touch
  • Always thank people for advice or perspective
  • Volunteer your time, both at work and in your community.
  • Join affinity groups at your company.
  • Participate in social events connected to work.
  • Reach out through social media or blogs to link to people with similar professional interests.
  • Offer to help others—reciprocity strengthens your network.

And when you  developing your network you will need to consider looking for diversity , include active listeners and cultivate your network by  offering help and assistance when you can. 

FIND MENTORS AND SPONSORS

A strong developmental network includes many people representing a broad range of experience.  But still, at the heart of the network there is a small  group  of mentors and sponsors. To successfully  identify  representatives of both types you will need to focus on recognize and attract them to you.

MENTORS

Mentors are people from inside and outside your organization who agree to help you navigate your career. They provide advice, empathy, and perspective. They can counsel you on the organization’s unwritten rules and help you navigate politically charged situations. When trying to identify  them you will need to consider that:

  • Mentors don’t counsel people judged by  seniority level.
    People at every career stage seek mentoring. Consider the senior executive, for example, who asks a younger employee for mentoring on social networks.
  • You need several  mentors in your life
    According to  the change in your organization or environment, you may  need different mentors to help  you grow and develop. They  can be helpful  for your development in different areas.
  • Mentoring depends on the path  you  draw and the level  you  are.
    It is not nessessary  to have  long relationship  with a particular mentor.  Mentorship  depends on the knowledge or skills you must gain to advance.
  • Mentorship  I s process with  benefits for both – mentor and mentee

When you  ask  someone to  become your mentor, provide also  information how  this mentor can benefit from the relationship  with  you. That  can be structured in different areas like feedback  on the organization, specific skills etc..

How can you find mentors? *

To find suitable mentors you must keep your eyes open for people who have skills or experience you could learn from. There is no particular source for mentors, you can find them in different departments in your organization,  in your professional community in social  networks etc.

SPONSOR

Sponsors are people with positional power or political influence who agree to advocate for you. Unlike mentors, they are always people in senior positions. They should be willing and able to connect you with other senior leaders and help you win high-profile assignments or promotions.

To find a sponsor, begin by considering anyone who has already acted like one to you. Look for senior leaders who helped you get your last promotion, connected you with  influential  people, invited you  to important meetings or events that  you  otherwise wouldn’t have attented, etc. If you have a relationship with someone like that, work to forge a closer connection. If no one comes to mind then you must plan steps.  To find someone.  Planning may  include some steps like:

  • Increase your visibility by introducing yourself to senior leaders at all-company meetings.
  • Ask for opportunities to speak at company forums.
  • Contribute constructive content and comments to online company forums.
  • Volunteer for cross-functional projects to make new connections.
  • Research potential sponsors’ career histories and the work they care about most.
  • Request meetings with potential sponsors for career-development advice.
  • Offer to collaborate on a project of interest to a potential sponsor.

ASK FOR CAREER HELP

Many relationships evolve naturally; someone becomes a mentor, sponsor, or member of your developmental network without an explicit request. However, just as often, you’ll need to ask directly for a first meeting, mostly because people have full lives and aren’t interested in your career as you are. You may feel uncomfortable approaching someone, but you are likely to get a positive response.

To succeed in approaching mentors and sponsors you must become strategic and make it easy for that person to say yes. When you ask for help, be sure to:

  • Explain your goals.
  • Focus on mutual benefit
  • Outline how you envision the relationship functioning.
  • Allow time to respond

IN CONCLUSION:

When planning your career it is important to plan also who  will help  you  in the different areas, steps and stages.  A planned career path, supported by  a expanding developmental  network  can become your key  for successful  professional growth. To  achieve that  you will need persistence, acceptance of the feedback  you  receive and flexibility  to  change steps according to  the changing environment and professional conditions, without letting your career goal to fade.   

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