We’ve all played the game, right? Six degrees of separation. The premise is that we’re all related somehow back to Kevin Bacon- or to each other for that matter. I’m not sure how I’m connected to Kevin Bacon, or his pitbull Lily, but I’m sure that somehow I am.
Today, I’m thinking about the network. I’m particularly thinking about how I need to leverage my personal and professional networks over the next few months. At first glance, I see four tiers of folks:
- Confiders: Those who know the whole story and are there to support the whole process- personal and professional. They may be more intimately involved in the my personal life and values conversations as much as the professional path conversations. These folks may or may not be gateways to mentors, advisers, and connecters, or take on those roles themselves.
- Mentors: Individuals who provide specific support and coaching. At the beginning of this journey, these mentors may look more like life coaches. As I narrow down my focus for “the next step” they will likely be sector-specific individuals to whom I can ask questions and receive feedback. Mentors are in the relationship for the “long haul”- whether that be via email, phone or in-person. They may also take on a connector role.
- Advisers: Like mentors, these individuals provide specific support and coaching around a particular area. However, unlike mentors, they may be “one stop” folks who step in to provide advice on a one-time, limited, or short-term basis. They may also take on a connector role.
- Connecters: Folks I’m connected to directly, or through six degrees for separation and LinkedIn, who are interested and willing to connect me to other people. Whether that be to a mentor, an adviser, an informational interview, or a job lead, etc.
So where does all this leave me? Considering the potential breadth of my professional and personal networks here in Boston and beyond is slightly overwhelming. And, that my networks are already kicking in with offers of coffees and job leads is heartwarming- and that’s before I’ve even sent the “I’m unemployed and I’m reaching out to you for XYZ…” email to the majority of my network.
As I broach the network question, I think I must first list out who I know, how I know them, and what role I’d like them to take on. Then I’m going to see who they’re connected to. And, finally, the best part happens- I get to ask for help. And, who knows, while I go through this process perhaps I’ll find out that I really am connected to Kevin Bacon (or Lily) through only six degrees of separation. And, perhaps, that’ll get me to my next career 😉