Jun 4, 2016
You've gotten over your initial fear of going up to a complete stranger and striking up a conversation. You've even accumulated an impressive stack of business cards. Proud of yourself? Getting someone's card is the easy part. Knowing which of these people can and will help you in your career is the real challenge. Here are four people you should add to your network to advance your career.
This one's a bit obvious, but we often undermine exactly how important it is to have someone to objectively criticise your ideas, offer advice, organise your thoughts, and help you create a plan. A mentor doesn't have to be someone you've been close to since your school/university days or someone who's high up in the world. It could be someone who's moving up the ladder, getting promotions and bigger responsibilities. Someone who's aware of what needs to be done and is approachable enough to offer their two cents.
The inside guy
We're well aware of the dangers of gossiping in your professional life – it'll come back to stab you in the back sooner or later. So instead of getting comfortable with the office gossip girl, find someone who knows the industry dirt and is willing to share it – an insider. Although the whole affair may sound seedy at first, the insider isn't just any company guy with a big mouth. They're well-connected and known for their observation and listening skills.
While you may come across people like this all the time, you will have to build a solid professional relationship with them to gain their trust. You need to put some serious time and effort into it because most people won't give you the inside-scoop just because you're asking.
The man with the plan
It's fairly easy to spot the man with the plan, aka, the visionary. This is one person you can be sure to inspire you with fresh ideas and energy when you're in a rut. But obviously, their usefulness extends to beyond that.
The visionary is always coming up with new ideas, networking, and executing exciting projects. They're full of great career advice and know the right people in the right places. While it may seem daunting at first to approach someone like this, they're usually hanging out at networking events, meeting new people. So take a deep breath and make that first move. Make a compliment, smile, and continue from where you left off on social media.
In our race to the top, it gets harder to start looking down. We're too busy thinking about the next big contact, the next big job. That's why it's always handy to have a young perspective.
Having someone young in your circle will help you stay updated with how the industry's changing from the ground up. It's also undeniably refreshing to see someone who's enthusiastic and passionate. Who knows, he or she could just be the next big thing.
Selfish motives aside, this is also a great opportunity for you to bag some points in the mentor department. You've been there, done that – your experience could be of great use to someone who's just starting out.
So slow down for a second and reach out to the wide-eyed junior at your alma mater or the fresh grad in the office.
While it's good to know a wide array of people across industries, don't start your network without a purpose. Play it smart and keep an eye out for these people.
The writer is Sub-Editor of the career publication of The Daily Star and a junior at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka
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