Five People Every Professional Needs For Their Career to Succeed

“It takes a village.”

When it comes to your career, this is definitely true.

Savvy professionals know that being successful in any job or position involves having many individuals focused on their success, helping them achieve their career goals along the way. They know that no one builds a successful career alone.

Such professionals also know that having a mentor and/or sponsor is not only critical in today’s work world, but an imperative. There is nothing that replaces having such individuals on your career team. They are priceless.

But the savviest career professional knows it’s a little more to this.

It’s about a few others on their team, working on their behalf.

Such individuals may not have a great deal of political or organizational clout or even the ability to make change happen immediately, but they are just as valuable, if not more.

This is where many of us miss the mark as professionals.

We miss the opportunity to excel by forgetting these other individuals and placing all bets on a few people in the organization to help us. This can be a disaster waiting to happen and is risky.

Then we wonder what happened when that plum assignment was given to someone else or that next promotional opportunity passed us by. Well, maybe if maybe if we had a collective team working on our behalf, this may have not happened.

Determine if you have the right individuals helping you in achieving or maintaining your career aspirations. Take a moment to do an inventory as to who is currently helping you achieve your career goals and has helped you in the past.

Do you remember when you first joined your organization? There was someone that was able to explain things and how they worked including the people. Well as we become familiar with the organization, we often become less familiar with the person who was there at our beginning. We often forget that we need such people ongoing as we navigate throughout the organization. We need them all the time. I call them the Organizational Decoder. According to Tiffany Dufu, Author of Drop the Ball and Levo League Chief Leadership Leader in a recent conversation with Sherry Sims, Founder of the Black Career Women’s Network, you need someone in your organization that has the ability to spell it out to you. Spelling out how the organization sees you, for example. This person will give you that unfiltered feedback. You may not like it, but consider it a gift. Obviously, it is up to you as to what you do with the feedback, but you’ll never say this individual didn’t honestly provide it to you.

Have you ever wondered why you weren’t on the path that you thought we were on? Better yet, wondering why no one told you that you were somewhat off? Trust me, there were individuals who saw what was happening and could have shared with you what they were seeing. More importantly help you get back on the right path. These are the Path Directors in your organization. They have seen what has happened to others many times before. They don’t have control over your career, but they can for sure point you in the right direction or serve as a guide as to where you should go or not, even who you maybe need to avoid.

Another key team member is the Off the Record Insider. Your relationship is all about trust. You trust them, but what is more important is that they trust you. They are in conversations for example in which you are not. They share with you unsolicited what they know can impact you. They often may not have the power to make any direct changes concerning your career, but they support you and are dedicated to your career success. Their way of supporting you is sharing with you what they know in a confidential manner.

Everyone knows what a connector does. Obviously such individuals bring people together, but do they bring the right people together specifically on your behalf? This is not just when you need to get something done, but a Purposeful Connector is always thinking about you. They not only connect you with people that you should know, but can actually help you achieve your goals even when you’re not expecting help or asking for it. These individuals are connected within your organization, as well as externally.

Finally, people often listen to respond. This person never responds. It may sound odd, but sometimes we just want someone within our organization to listen to us without judgement about our career choice or lack thereof. The conversation is just between the two of you. This is the Quiet Listener. This person understands and works within your company. But what is special about them is that you don’t have to take 30 minutes explaining what happened. They get what you are going through immediately and understand you. They don’t judge, take action or even give advice, they simply listen. Sometimes we just need to be heard. Having someone only listen to you helps you manage your thoughts. Also it protects you against your issue showing up in your communication to others in a way that could damage your career out of frustration.

Did any of any of these descriptions of people that you should have on your team sound familiar?

If not, you may want to think about this and enlist such individuals to help you with your career. To be successful you can’t do it alone.

It pays to have many in your corner committed to helping you achieve professional success.


Francine Parham

View posts by Francine Parham
Francine Parham is the Founder and CEO of FrancineParham & Co. Also an author of the book, "The Ultimate Career Pocket Guide." She focuses on the advancement of women through her public speaking, writing, curated and micro-networking events as well as specialized skill-building workshops. The company, FrancineParham & Co. invests in women as well as partners with organizations that support advancing women to be leaders and influencers in their chosen field. As a firm believer in sharing and helping women to excel, a portion of the funds from the events are always provided to philanthropic organizations focused on advancing women.
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