I spent time last Friday at an event where I listened to a panel discuss the concept of Mentors, Coaches, Sponsors and Allies in our professional lives. The discussion was impactful as it had me thinking of some key questions that I needed to think deeper about. Maybe you do as well?
Who sits on your board of directors?
Having a personal board of directors is important for many reasons. The biggest reason, they can help you reach goals, give honest advice and feedback. (learn more about board of directors in this blog from ‘Be Leaderly’).
There are a few roles to consider when thinking of your board of directors, including the connector, the influencer, the mentor, the sponsor, the coach and the information powerhouse.
I realized over the weekend, that my personal board of directors has changed significantly over the years. This seems accurate as my career has done a complete shift and I no longer work in a corporate environment, but even if my role has change, my support system is just as important today as it was then.
I started thinking about this during the event on Friday and spent more time over the weekend thinking about who I had in each of my areas and where I may have gaps. I began writing down the names of people in my network. What I found surprised me.
As someone who believes in the power of these roles, I noticed that I was missing people in my network that were influencers (some who can act on or advocate on my behalf), connectors (those that could open doors for me in the coaching and facilitation world) and mentors (specifically those who can help me tackle business development).
When I dug a bit deeper into the Why behind this, I found the true reason to be my own fear and lack of commitment to networking. I know people who can play these roles for me, but I have this underlying belief that I should know these things and shouldn’t be asking for help. Has that ever happened to you? Overcoming my own fears and beliefs is something I will always need to work on. Self-identification is the key to start that process.
Here are some questions you can use when mapping our your own network:
- Where do I need to build up my network (mentor/sponsor/coach,etc)?
- Whom can I leverage to help me find someone?
- What roadblocks or concerns are in my way of finding a mentor/sponsor/coach,etc?
- What, if anything, am I afraid of in having a mentor/sponsor/coach,etc?
- What am I excited about in relation to having a mentor/sponsor/coach,etc?
I am now starting to plan how to build up my network to support my growth and development in key areas. That leads me to the next question that came up….
Who are you advocating for?
Just as important to having people in your network to support and coach you, it’s important to give back to others as well. Who I am advocating or supporting is key. Again, I found my answer surprised me.
Sure there are many that I coach and mentor for my business (I am a coach after all!) but who am I supporting. Where can I lend my expertise, advice and guidance?. Who could I go to bat for and whose back do I have?
I did the same process as above and noticed I am lacking in my efforts to give back as well. Ironically, as I was identifying this, I received a LinkedIn message asking me if I would consider being a mentor for a fellow women entrepreneur. Turns out the person scheduled to do it was unexpectedly able to commit. Was this the universe telling me something? I immediately said yes and am excited to begin this journey of not only giving, sharing and helping this women but in turn learning from her as well. Just like any relationship, you take from it what you give and what you want, and I love to learn in any situation and from others experiences. This should be no different.
Having a support system and giving support are two great ways to grow professionally and reach your goals. Who is in you network? Who has your back? Where are you lacking support and what your plans to get there?
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To your growth, development and amazing potential,