We’ve all been told about the professional importance of having a mentor. So why not quadruple down and build your own “board of directors?”
Career coach and strategist at SoFiRachel Kim advocates for just that — building and maintaining strong relationships with a number of advisors who have diverse skills. “Careers are no longer just a straight path, so it’s important to have a variety of different experiences you can call upon for advice and support,” she says.
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Not sure where to start? Here’s how to establish and utilize your own personal board:
Pursue a diverse skills set
You might be tempted to fill your board with contacts solely within your industry, but it’s important to connect with a diverse range of people who can help you grow. “The easiest connection to make is someone like you,” Kim says. Reaching out to people with different experiences, skills, and personalities can stretch your brain and shift your perspective, not to mention help you identify your “blind spots.”
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Think beyond your professional life
“Professional and personal is becoming blended,” Kim says, “Every aspect of your life plays a role [in your board selection] as well.” Always wanted to learn more about art? Reach out to an expert who can help you explore your creative side. Seeking out others who help cultivate your interests will only enhance your professional performance.
Regularly re-evaluate your goals
“Every year, take a step back to assess your goals and assess your board,” Kim suggests. Were you able to invest enough of your personal time to make the relationships effective? Are you hoping to achieve something new and different than in the past? It might be time to make a shift towards new board members or away from others, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means a larger network!
Put in the work… even when everything’s great
Even if things are going well professionally, don’t neglect the relationships you’ve developed. Take time to cultivate your board even when you’re on the upswing. “It’s the best time to broaden your networks and learn from each other,” Kim says. That way, when you really need support and advice, you’ll have people to turn to.
Don’t forget about “wish list” members
Many of us might wish we could have Oprah as our own personal life coach. Though some experts are simply out of reach, that doesn’t mean their advice is off-limits. “It’s okay to have somebody you know enough about, but you don’t know face to face,” Kim says. If there’s a public figure whose experience you trust, add them to your board’s roster and think about what advice he or she might offer.
Pay it forward
“No matter what stage of your career you’re in, there are always opportunities to give back to others,” Kim says. If you’ve personally benefited from having a diverse set of mentors in your life, consider those who might be in need of your expertise or guidance, and return the favor!