A timeless African proverb goes like this: “It takes a village to raise a child.” This simple wisdom is true for your career, too. Whether you are in job search mode or happily employed, nurturing your “career village” is essential.
What is a “career village”? It's a network of support that spans both your personal and professional contacts. It’s comprised of former managers and colleagues, LinkedIn contacts, recruiters, mentors, professional membership organizations, and, most importantly, sister Thetas!
Like a child’s village, each member of your “career village” plays a unique role. There are teachers who challenge you. Advocates who encourage you. Guides who help you navigate your journey. There are supporters who lift you up. Leaders who inspire action. And champions who see the best in you, even when you don’t. On good days, your “career village” is ready with a high-five. On challenging days, your village offers a sturdy shoulder and a willing ear.
Now let’s focus on your personal “career village." Where is it thriving? Where does it need some nurturing? Here are five easy steps to help you invigorate this vital community.
Step 1: Identify who is in your village. Make a list of the inhabitants. Who do you know already? Think of all the people who have helped you get to where you are today: your cheerleaders, your advocates, your friends, your connections.
Step 2: Find the weak links. Who have you lost touch with? Who could you know better? Who is valuable and needs more interaction and cultivation?
Step 3: Consider who is missing. Make a list of who else you need in your village to bridge any gaps. Be thoughtful and deliberate. What skills do you need to develop? What organizations are you trying to access? Where can you meet these new contacts? How can you get to know them?
Step 4: Strengthen the village. Prioritize building those parts of your village with micro-outreaches. Try a simple LinkedIn ping or ThetaConnect direct message. Invite them to a quick Zoom call. Share an article that might be of interest or forward on the news about a mutual contact.
Step 5: Rinse and repeat. Keep at it. You will be astonished at how things add up over time when you take those small actions continually.
The time to start is now. Make it a point to cultivate and build your “career village” today. Now, more than ever, this community is important to enhancing your career and developing your talent. Don’t wait until you need support from your village. If you do it now, it will be there when you need it.