Mentors and Professional Networking: Why You Need Both to be Successful

Mentoring

This month’s webinar topic on Professional Networking and Mentors is such an important one for people searching for relevance and opportunities. We talked about how to strategically build the network you need to accomplish your professional goals.

Here are some of the things we covered:

Standard networking rules apply

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  1. Network when you don’t need anything.
  2. Give more than you take – always.
  3. Successful people get help.

Be clear about your goals

  • Set your networking targets. What you are trying to accomplish? List the types of challenges you have, the decision makers you need to connect with, and what you need to achieve. Who can help you? The webinar worksheets help you create your strategy and plan.
  • You are more vulnerable if you are not connected. Who other than your boss cares what happens to you? How are you viewed by your boss’s peers? Who knows you? What happens to you and your boss in a re-org, or acquisition?
  • Is this just politics? Call it what you wish but you will be at a disadvantage without a network of support. If you intentions are honorable and you are giving back, your networking efforts will be authentic and valuable to both sides. They will not be hollow, selfish or political in a negative way.

Get and use mentors

  • Why you need mentors. You need mentors to fuel your imagination, help you see what is possible and necessary in your work, keep you connected to reality, make connections for you, and help you learn how to do a bigger job.
  • Types of mentors you need. Don’t get hung up on the word “mentor.” You need lots of smart people (you can’t have too many), but you also specifically need career advocates and business advisers. We talked about how to approach this and why it matters so much. There is a checklist in the worksheets.
  • How to ask for a mentor. We discussed several approaches but the main idea is to ask in a way they can’t refuse. Be gracious, respectful, and don’t ask for a lot of time. Listen to the podcast for effective conversation starters, and how to build a friendly meeting into a strong mentorship.

Your extra teams

  • Build a Personal Advisory Board. Successful executives have a group of people they can go to assess and brainstorm their business and career issues. It is really valuable source of support if you can work it out. We talked through a couple of models.
  • Build your extra team. Successful people get lots of people working for them that don’t report to them. Don’t just network with people above you, reach to peers and people at levels below you in the organization too. Make personal connections. Give them opportunities to connect with your network, and give them exposure at your level. Then you’ll always have help when you need it.

This was originally published on Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. Her new book is Rise: How to be Really Successful at Work and LIKE Your Life.

Patty Azzarello is the founder and CEO of Azzarello Group. She's also an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/business advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35, and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk). You can find her at patty@azzarellogroup.com .

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