Young professionals are constantly told to focus on building their networks.
In the process, it's important to introduce a diverse group of people into the mix. Life and work will surely throw crazy situations at all of us, and if we're ready with the right team, we can tackle anything.
When it comes down to it, you need these eight people in your network.
There will be times when you need someone in your corner cheering you on. This person is there to root for you when you're chasing a goal and is willing to help gather support for you from others. The Cheerleader provides encouragement and won't be a fair-weather fan. You will know your cheerleader believes in you. With his or her support, you feel like you can conquer the world.
Be sure to have someone you can count on to always know about the newest technologies, the emerging digital trends and the crazy things happening in startup land. This person won't care much about what is cool now but will probably have an idea of what's next. Knowing this type of person and talking about what he (or she) thinks is interesting will be a pipeline to new ideas.
This person is close to your age, at roughly the same point in his or her career, and in the same (or a similar) industry. It's very
important to know a like-minded person in a similar professional place so you can discuss issues, including frustrating bosses, difficult colleagues or clients, and the challenges you face at your job level. Sometimes you're just going to need to speak with someone who understands where you're coming from and may be able to some advice, given that they’re living it, too. It also doesn't hurt to have a peer to attend industry events with and help each other meet new people.
Strong mentors will make the biggest difference to your professional success. Great mentors will recognize your potential and help cultivate your talent. They will offer you advice as you're navigating your career, introduce you to other successful people, and teach you how to become a better professional. They will also give you an opportunity to show what you know and help teach them something new or offer insights into a generation they may not fully understand. A solid mentoring relationship is beneficial for both sides, and having a trusted professional advisor will be helpful in more ways than you know. Here
are some tips on creating successful relationships with mentors.
Just as a mentor will help you grow professionally, it's important—even as a young professional—to help people even younger. Having students or less-experienced pros look to you for advice will make you feel responsibility toward the success of another. You'll learn to dedicate some of your time and energy to giving back. The protégé will give you a handle on the next set of up-and-comers—the shining stars in your industry. Be sure your network includes people who will hold your feet to the fire—it will ensure you never grow complacent.
Do your best to create a meaningful relationship with someone influential in your industry. When influencers are far-away celebrities, or just the keynote speakers you see on stage, it's easy to idolize that person and take his or her word as gospel. By getting to know them on a deeper level, it will remind you that everyone is human—even the rock stars. Learning this lesson will be important as you gain more success in your own career. By looking at their success from the inside out, you will better understand which behaviors, habits, and practices make them so respected in their industry.
Everyone needs a quirky, artsy weirdo in their network. The person who finds crazy videos, drawings, and passion projects and shares them. This person will be a crucial source of inspiration throughout your career and will surely be your go-to when you need to inject some creativity into your life. Never have a shortage of people who fuel your right brain.
Humans are most comfortable when surrounded by similar people. It's easy to get caught up in building a network of people who will generally agree with you, support you, and enjoy what you share. But you need a hater—someone with whom you don't see eye to eye. Someone who won't be afraid to challenge you and make you feel uncomfortable at times. When you work hard on something and someone tries to make you feel like you’re effort is worthless, it does a few things:
• It makes you more appreciative of the supportive people in your life;
• It makes you reevaluate how much dedication you have to your vision and project;
• It lets you know you're doing something worth noticing.
I always say, if no one is hating on you, then you're not doing anything interesting enough to talk about. The hater will sometimes be the reality check that the rest of your network can't give you.
Who else needs to be part of your network?
This story first appeared on PR Daily in April 2011.