Iesha Small

writing, career pivots, side hustles

Build you career like an entrepreneur.

4 networks you need to thrive at work

My working life has depended on building good relationships.

I’ve worked in tough schools and had to help kids who didn’t think they were academic realise they loved Maths.

I’ve lead research projects where we had to build the trust of vulnerable young people and their families.

I’ve had to improve the performance of teams and departments who had been consistently told they were rubbish.

I’ve had to build long term relationships with policymakers to understand their needs and help improve society.

Relationships lead to networks. Here are the four types of network I think we all need to thrive:

Personal support network

I’ve put this first because it’s the most important.

Generally these are the people who really care about you whatever your title on your LinkedIn profile. They will bake you a cake for your birthday. Give you a call if they haven’t heard from you for a while and turn up with you to your loved one’s funeral for support.

Peer network

You need a network of peers who understand what you do. They may have similar expertise and be in similar roles.

You can bat ideas around and talk about day-to-day experiences with them. Ideally you need these inside AND outside of the current company you work for.

A LOT of opportunities come from this group and often your careers will grow together in various ways.

Mentor network

These are people who are in your industry or areas of expertise but more advanced than you. You may look up to or aspire to be like in some way.

Sometimes you have access to them (like a boss or CEO) or they may need to be accessed via books, podcasts, or industry news.

Younger versions of yourself

Never forget this one.

These are younger colleagues or people new to your industry. They may also be people at an earlier career stage.

Sometimes people don’t make time for this group but it’s essential. Somebody made time for you, so keep this cycle going.

What’s that? You don’t have time to be a mentor? No problem. Find a scalable way.

That’s why I write on LinkedIn and other places and why I’m pretty transparent about career stuff when asked by younger colleagues in my professional life.

When I’m at my best I have all of these four networks working well. If I neglect any one of them for an extended time then usually something is up.

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4 networks you need to thrive at work