When you’re focusing on your career, it’s natural to seek comfort from people who are encouraging and helpful. Whether you are a job seeker, aspiring leader, or you're putting the focus on your professional development, secure the support of different people who can “stand in your corner.” As advisors or “go-to” people, these individuals can help as you shape your course towards success. Look out for folks like these to add to your support team:
A “Connector” is someone with a strong, current, and bustling network that they reach out to and nurture regularly. They will enthusiastically introduce others to you or locate resources that make what you are working on easier. This person effortlessly makes connections between needs and resources, and matches them together. If you are lucky to find a Connector who can identify mutually beneficial scenarios, even better! Any time you can give as well as receive is a bonus, so jump on opportunities where you can gain a resource and give one in return. Sometimes this can even lead to another new connection or opportunity for collaboration, so don’t let it pass you by!
The Grammar Snob (and the Spelling Stickler)
Before you send out one more resume, grant proposal, or press release, implore the most grammatically correct friend you have to read over your documents. Also shoot over a copy to a Spelling Stickler for a review so that your document is free from misspellings. You might even want to sit down with them during the review and ask them to point out every change they are making and why. This serves as a mini-crash course so you can avoid making the same mistakes again.
If you’re ever feeling like you’re fumbling for the right words or just want to refresh your vocabulary, seek out a Wordsmith. Perhaps you feel you’re being repetitive with how you deliver your messages or just want to breathe some life into the way you use words. Seek out your best example of a Human Thesaurus, someone prolific with words. Set up an informal coffee chat and expose yourself to the words in your Wordsmith’s vocabulary.
This happened to me several months ago when a friend used the word “oomph”. It gave me an instant mental picture. It stuck as one of my go-to words to describe something with a certain exciting energy to it.
If you’re looking to find ways to better connect with others or add a little “oomph” to your messaging, sometimes it’s a simple matter of changing up the words that you use. Immerse yourself in your Wordsmith’s arsenal and give a few of the words a “test drive” by incorporating them into your own speech. See what feels authentic and add it to your word bank.
The Marketing Wiz
If you’ve decided to jump on the “personal website” bandwagon or are engaging in any other medium to make a name for yourself, you definitely want this person on your team! This savvy individual knows can help you clarify and define your “unique selling proposition”- what distinguishes you from the competition and makes you authentically YOU.
Does this person actually have to have “marketing” or “branding” in his job title? Absolutely not! Think of your friends with the most social clout and online influence. Who really gets the conversations started and keeps them going? Who knows where to go for the most popular news and features? Maybe you know someone who always gets the best (and most) comments on their blog posts. Find out what they are doing to gain traction and get attention. Incorporate it into your own promotional blitz.
The Idea Bouncer
This person is someone who can support you as you brainstorm ideas or formulate ways for executing projects or goals. While you may want someone to just sit and listen intently (that’s a different type of go-to person- see below), your Idea Bouncer will take in what you share, quickly reflect on it, and bounce back some questions for you to consider as you make plans. For example, let’s say you want to organize take-home meals for children in a nonprofit after-school program. Your Idea Bouncer may ask you: what credentials do you need to safely assemble and distribute food and how will you get them if you don’t already have them? How will you identify funding sources for the program? What other permissions do you need? Who else do you need in your corner?
Select someone who is highly inquisitive as your Idea Bouncer. You want someone who can help you look at the angles you may have missed in your excitement to get started on your goal. As your Idea Bouncer presents questions, take notes that will help you determine whether you are taking the “right” course of action for you at this time, and what you can do to help you get there.
This individual will listen intently to your ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Unlike the Idea Bouncer, the Listener won’t necessarily play devil’s advocate on your behalf. Rather, they will provide a safe, supportive space for you to think “out loud”.
The Insightful Observer
Looking to finesse your leadership style or interview approach? You’ll want to ask an Insightful Observer, “tell me what you see.” Insightful Observers take note not only of what they physically see with their eyes (eg, “your shirt is yellow”) but what you might be saying without even using a word. This individual might assess your body language; for example, “when you sit hunched over, you give the impression that you’re not confident with the idea you just presented.”
This can pack a real punch- if you were unaware that you were slouching, you likely were not paying attention to the impression it can give. It may even spur you on to reflect on how confident you truly feel about your idea. Spend time with your Insightful Observer to learn more about the cues you may be giving others- whether they be interviewers or coworkers you manage and lead- and what you can do about it.
By Victoria Crispo