Former US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, ‘I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.’ Get in control of your network and you will change your game, make the impossible possible and achieve your goals. You will find it easier to connect to people with ideas and dreams and to convert those ideas and dreams into action.
A quality network of 12 will allow you to build your future strategically, leverage opportunities and mutually exchange value, and accelerates you towards inspirational thinking and exponential growth.
However, who you think is in your network and who you actually have there may be two very different things. For example, you may have included your boss in your network, but their key focus is actually on achieving their objectives, not yours. Remember the old cliché ‘what gets measured gets done’. This is what you need to think about when it comes to your network of 12. You need to really dig deep to understand who is really fulfilling what role, and who you are missing.
As Jim Rohn once said, ‘Don’t join an easy crowd; you won’t grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high.’ This is the only way you will keep control and stay in the driving seat of your successful network.
Meet your 12 key people
Your Cheerleader is exactly that, your number one fan. They rave about you all the time whether you’re in or out of the room. Everyone needs a Cheerleader, pom poms and all. They believe in your dreams, they trust in you and know your capability and capacity, and as a result they jump up and down and make a lot of noise about you. They are your walking billboard, your TV campaign, your social media platform.
Parents are most often our very first Cheerleaders, picking us up when we fall, telling us, ‘You can be whatever you want to be.’ But when it comes to networking for success today, it’s important to look beyond the obvious, because now you need a reality check just as much as unconditional encouragement.
Real-life adventurer and author Mikael Strandberg defines an explorer as someone who ‘is almost always driven by curiosity and a great willpower of making a difference’. Explorers challenge norms and uncover new paths, so an Explorer in your network will constantly ask you, ‘Why?’ They want to know what your goals are and how you’re thinking of getting there. They are curious about your path to the top and may give you ideas for a different way of accomplishing your feat.
An Explorer isn’t interested in what everyone else thinks. They want to know what you think and get excited about the road less travelled and the thoughts less thought. They will force you to remove the lens of normality and replace it with the lens of opportunity. They want you to become more, and they will courageously and fearlessly carve out previously unknown options for you to consider to achieve your ultimate goal.
Inspiration is the power of possibility. When you spend time with someone who inspires you, they light a fire within you, they fuel your dreams and energise you to do more, to take on more and become more. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Enthusiasm is contagious’, and it’s true. An Inspirer’s energy, passion for what they do, courage and self-belief really are infectious.
No matter what you want to do and achieve, having an Inspirer in your network will change everything. They create a picture of a future possibility you can almost see, feel, hear and touch. They inject you with so much enthusiasm and energy that you believe you can take on the world.
Your Lover’s primary focus and concern is you and your wellbeing. However, although it’s tempting to nominate a significant other in this role, I strongly recommend you don’t. Sure, you’ll always have special people there who look after and support you personally, but they don’t always need, or want, to listen to everything that’s happening in your day-to-day work. This can actually put pressure on our most valued personal relationships.
The other danger is that the people who love us the most will generally tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Your Lover has to be someone who is 100 per cent honest with you all the time — even when it hurts! Their brutal honesty about your behaviour or the decisions you’re making can cut you right to the core. This can often be hard to take from a lover in real life. It’s not a personal attack; it’s the truth you need to hear.
In his best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes Connectors as: people who link us up with the world, who bridge Omaha and Sharon, who introduce us to our social circles — these people on whom we rely more heavily than we realize are Connectors, people with a very special gift of bringing people together.
Your Connector opens doors for you, whether to other people or to information. Sure, you may have a network, but you’ll be limited by who you know, your experience and how long you’ve been at it without a Connector on board. Connectors have (you guessed it) connections. They are powerful brokers of information and contacts. They have an innate ability to open doors and make connections between people and information, creating opportunities that might have been unheard of previously — and they love doing it!
Your Balancer keeps everything aligned and in check. They force you to attach your own oxygen mask before you see to anyone else’s. The key word for a Balancer is Self-Care. They understand that any kind of success relies on a healthy balance between personal and professional goals.
They understand your family and friends are precious and important to your overall physical and psychological wellness, and as important as an investment in your wellbeing and your career. They believe that success is about doing what you love to do in the way you want to do it, and that a balanced lifestyle is not just possible, it’s an absolute must for any kind of success.
‘Been there, done that’: say hello to your Influencer. Your Influencer has reached a level of success you aspire to. They enrich your learning experience with their own knowledge. You actively learn from their mistakes, heeding their wisdom and advice.
Learning what your Influencer has done well, and what they would do differently if they had their time again, will give you incredible insights and help you avoid having to reinvent the wheel or learn everything the hard way.
Richard Branson once said, ‘The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day.’ This is how your Professor plays their part.
Your Professor brings fresh ideas, insights and thinking to the table. Maybe they have access to new market data, information and trend reports. Perhaps they’re ahead of the curve in terms of what’s happening in your industry. In either case, they keep you informed of what’s happening now and is likely to happen in the future so your knowledge is always relevant and you are always on top of your game.
Your Architect helps design, plan and supervise your next steps. They are expert at visualising the consummation of your plans and how to reach that future. They believe all the hard work is in the planning and pre-production stages, and this is where you need to spend a lot of your time.
They are passionate about what you do, are excellent communicators and have fabulous problem-solving skills — all of which are hugely useful to you as you progress through your career or business growth plans. Facing a challenge? No problem, your Architect will work tirelessly and calmly to help you solve it.
Your Architect is methodical, astute and financially savvy, good at identifying potential gains, challenges and risks, and at laying the stepping-stones to guide you along your path.
- Truth Sayer
The Truth Sayer is honest and loyal and will force you to commit to your goals with integrity. Your Truth Sayer has well-established beliefs and values that clearly drive their behaviour and decision making. They are candid, transparent, authentic and real.
They know that the only judgement that matters is the one you have of yourself. If you don’t start leading from within, taking control to acknowledge your values and belief systems and fully owning who you are, you will never be capable of being a better person. As leadership expert John C. Maxwell puts it, ‘If you are bigger on the inside than you are on the outside, then over time you will become bigger on the outside.’ Your Truth Sayer is here to kick your butt over your behaviour and the direction you’re taking. They will tell you honestly when they agree with you, and be equally honest when they don’t agree with you.
The Accelerator makes things happen and accepts no excuses for inaction. Most of us think long and hard about what we want to achieve. We think, and we think … and we think. We think so hard that we eventually think ourselves out of action. If we’re not thinking about it, we’re discussing it. We discuss the idea, product or concept until we’re blue in the face. Put simply, we discuss it until it’s dead.
This is when your Accelerator kicks in. Whether you have a plan, a dream or a project to deliver on, they will kick your butt into action so your idea doesn’t remain just that — an idea. Your Accelerator grabs procrastination by its ankles and hurls it out of the window. They push you and prod you to make decisions, to stick to plans, to do what you said you were going to do.
You are never too good to need a Mentor. They provide advice and guidance. A Mentor is empowering and enabling, pure and simple. Record producer Quincy Jones credits Ray Charles as his Mentor. Oprah Winfrey cites the late Maya Angelou as her Mentor. ‘She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship,’ Oprah once said. Whether in a formal or an informal arrangement, Mentors are crucial to your growth and success. They guide and inspire your career choices, providing wisdom to keep you on track and inspired.
Professor Stacy Blake-Beard, of Simmons College in Boston, believes the best mentoring relationships are found where both similarities and differences exist, where individuals ‘share a common ground and learn from alternate perspectives’.
Where are you now?
So how was that? What have you discovered? Which of the 12 key people and personalities do you have in your network, and which are you missing?
Remember, your network does not and should not consist solely of people who think like you. To achieve true diversity you need to balance the 12 key people across industries, experience, genders and geographical locations. That may mean rethinking some people who are in your network and trying to find other individuals to broaden your network.
You need one person, and one person only, representing each of the 12 key personality types: one Cheerleader, one Influencer, one Explorer and so on. This probably means you will need to find people to fill certain roles, but it may also mean you have to cut back your network.
it’s likely you’ll find individuals who could fill more than one role, in which case you’ll need to nominate them for just one and find someone else to fill the other. It’s also likely by now that you have identified certain individuals in your network who are actually not supporting you in a way you need