Part IV of the ‘How to Negotiate Effective Relationships with Mentors and Sponsors to Advance Your Career’ series
Many key roles make up the constellation of relationships that can help catapult your career. Effective use of mentors, sponsors, allies, coaches and connectors is one of the fastest ways to launch your career, yet they are often misunderstood or overlooked altogether. This mini-series is designed to raise your awareness about how to find mentors, sponsors, allies, coaches, and connectors, and how to use them to advance your career.
In Part I of this series, we highlighted the difference between sponsors, mentors, allies, and coaches. In Part II of this series, we talked about how to find mentors to boost your career. In Part III of this series, we talked about how to find sponsors to turbo-boost your career.
Today, for Part IV of this series, we are going to break down what allies, coaches and connectors are and discuss how to use these relationships to get maximum benefit. These are the three most-oft ignored assets in relationship-building to build a career. Understanding how these 3 roles differ from one another can be key in getting you better opportunities and propelling your career to new heights.
What is an Ally?
Having allies in the work field is essential when trying to work your way up the ladder. Allies are individuals or groups of people that rally to support you. Allies back you up and help enforce your ideas. They may offer assistance, support, or friendship. This support may be for a specific project or issue or can be more general or broad-based in the workplace.
By way of example, if you have an issue coming up at work to effect a change in approach or philosophy, and you expect there will be resistance to the idea, it can be a game-changer to solicit allies in advance of the proposal. Having others reinforce the strength of the idea can offer increased leverage and pave the way for easier acceptance, making the difference between rejection or adoption of the proposal.
Likewise, in situations where your ideas are consistently being taken by others in the boardroom and/or you’re not getting the recognition you deserve for your contributions or ideas, having allies in the room who can speak up is invaluable. i.e. “Thanks for picking up on Cindy’s idea, Sam. I agree she’s raised an important point.”
Having allies helps with confidence because you know they have your back, and there is strength in numbers.
How to Find an Ally and Use Them to Get Maximum Benefit?
Allies can be a wide range of people who can offer you support in one way or another. They could be your colleagues, your manager, or a resource group where members support your ideas. Many alliances happen organically, where you bond and form relationships naturally through shared interests or goals. If you want to seek out an ally, it is important to get to know people in your network and build those relationships, to increase likelihood they will naturally become allies. It is also important to be an ally to others. The more connections you make and people you have backing you, the more likely your ideas are to be heard, which can help boost your career.
What is a Coach?
Coaches are often confused with mentors but there are distinct differences. Coaches teach others and provide them with guidance to help them grow. They provide knowledge and tools for the people they are coaching and help them perform to the best of their ability. Coaches give feedback and help you get tangible results.
A coach will typically provide a thought-provoking experience that helps you to see your own goal and maximize your potential. A coach tends to be a more short-term relationship, with a specific outcome in mind. These outcomes can involve both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ work. In other words, coaches can be invaluable in assisting with the mindset work necessary to allow you to step into the most powerful version of yourself. They can also offer new skills and expertise as well as tips and tricks to fast-track your progress. With the right coach, you can cut years off the learning curve so they’re worth their weight in gold.
How to Find a Coach and Use Them to Get Maximum Benefit?
A coach may be somebody that is in your network already. Coaches are usually experts in their field. They may already be in your network, or you can seek out experts in your field outside of your network. There are exceptional coaches available for hire, either for one-on-one coaching experiences or as part of a group coaching experience or program.
If you can find a coach who has expertise, reputation, and is able to provide the tools you need to improve your skills, this could be a big step in personal and professional growth and could help boost your career.
What is a Connector?
Connectors are people who may not help you directly but can help connect you with other people who can benefit you in your career. A connector may be someone who has a lot of connections, and who is good at networking. Connectors can help boost your career by introducing you to people who may become mentors, sponsors, allies, or coaches.
How to Find a Connector and Use Them to Get Maximum Benefit?
The best way to find Connectors is to expand your network and meet new people. The more people you know, the more likely you are to meet people that can connect you to the people that can help boost your career. It is important to network and go to events to make these crucial connections.
Having the knowledge about what each of these roles are, the benefits of having them, and how to find them is sure to be a step towards advancing your career. And, as always, it’s critical to be intentional about seeking out these valuable supports and building your ‘team’ to catapult your career and success.
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