How to pick career influencers

We make our own destiny – true. We make choices and take actions that determine our destiny –and, these are influenced by who and what we know. For most of us, both the choice of destination and the waypoints en route to it are often illuminated by ‘influencers’ or ‘role models.’

Most people are consciously or subconsciously influenced by others in making life choices, of which career choices constitute an important subset. Our work attitude, career goals, work-life balance, job pressure or career advancement are all shaped by peer influences and role model influences.

So, who are career role models/influencers?

“People who inspire you, teach you, promote you, even mentor you and most importantly introduce you to companies you wish to work for; those people who have a positive effect on you and your career are whom we call career influencers.”

And, why do you need one?

To illustrate the benefits of having a career influencer, let’s consider the impact he/she can have on career advancement. Networking impacts career prospects significantly. We often see, that the right contacts open doors to the right career opportunities. An influencer, with whom, you have built up a relationship, will not only push good opportunities your way but may also recommend your candidature and help you convert it into a job.

Clearly, having the right influencer can give you a career boost. Having said that, finding the right one and building a relationship with them requires some work on your part.

First, let us take stock, how connected are you?

Few pointers to check for career influencers in your current network,

  •    People who could inspire and teach you something new.
  •    People who currently hold, or have held, a position you want.
  •    People who can evangelize your talents.
  •    People who strengthen your personal brand.

It’s prudent to have multiple people as influencers, some say that the golden number is five. Maybe the oft-heard phrase, ‘If you hang around five millionaires, you’re gonna be the sixth,’ stems from here.

Looks like, being surrounded by people more successful than can accelerate your march to success. Easier said than done. What should be your next steps?

Building A Influencer Network

What to look for,

  •    Credibility: An influencer who can vouch for you, whose trust in you would matter to the people around you – it goes without saying, a credible influencer, a credible you.
  •    A Huge Network: Networking with an influencer who has many followers, whose opinion matters to a larger population can open up new horizons for you and your career or business.
  •    Thought Leadership: Insights of an influencer can help you acquire the right perspective and knowledge on the latest trends or advancements in your domain or technology sphere.
  •    Open to Mentorship: Look for people who are open to sharing knowledge, and professional insights with their followers. Also, those who respond to specific requests for mentorship on particular aspects.

How to Find Them

  •    Look in all directions: You may need different skills to achieve success, it’s wise to have multiple influencers as stated previously.
  •    Keep an Open Mind: You needn’t always look for known influencers. Anyone with the right professional makeup fits the bill – the CEO of your company or manager or friend of a friend. If you have a clear picture of what you want and are a little open minded, an influencer might be right around the corner.
  •    Not Ideal In Every Way: The influencer that you choose need not be a master of all. Don’t go looking for an ideal person who ticks all boxes, instead be selective about which qualities/ideas/work visions you want to benchmark and emulate.

Leveraging Influencer(s) For Your Career Growth
Create List: List out persons you want in your influencer network. Do groundwork on people you wish to connect to. Identify their interests, focus themes or hobbies to come up with good conversation starters.

Reach Out: You may feel awkward about approaching an influencer for a mentorship. Prior participation in conversations they initiate on social platforms, can build familiarity and set the stage for a formal mentorship.

Engage: Influencers may be busy and not have a lot of time to give to a mentorship. The frequency of contact and the mode of contact needs to be tailored to the time a mentor is willing to invest. For instance, if your mentor is busy, contact them via email to get the necessary guidance.

Ready to Build Your Influencer Network?

A few important points to consider:

Never underestimate yourself. Though you are seeking guidance, you are also offering an opportunity to mentor a dedicated and hard-working professional. You can approach an influencer by referencing the impact they have had on you.Any influencer would be glad to know if their advice has actually helped someone. One other way to approach a mentor is to offer something of value in return. When reaching out to a prospective influencer, don’t try to brag or sell your candidature, instead be helpful. Building a mutually beneficial relationship with your influencer network will take time and a little effort from you. Time and patience are both important to the success of this endeavor. Don’t choose an influencer because the connect is easy or due to familiarity. Connecting with slackers is an expense with no value in return – therefore, easy. Achievers, on the other hand, are not easy to connect with but can do you a world of good. In your attempts to connect, always be real and bold. It’s all about connecting to the right people, not just every person out there.