Who Is on Your Professional “Board of Directors”?

In the complex world of work and life these days, it’s important to have a solid network who can assist you as a listening ear or advisor when making important career decisions.  Over the course of my career, I’ve discussed new positions, advancement opportunities, prepping for crucial conversations, or even how to find work-life balance with my “Board of Directors”.  Honestly, I didn’t accept new positions, until I had spoken to my three trusted advisors. We’d review pros and cons of a new position, commute, compensation, flexibility, and more.  Making career decisions alone can be tough. Here are a few suggestions to start building your own personal “Board of Directors”.

  • Make it easier for potential mentors to find you, by getting active in your organization.   Most federal agencies have a Feds Feeds Families Campaign, Back to School Supply Drives, or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These opportunities are great ways to connect with others across your agency. 
  • Check if your organization has a formal mentoring program.  If so, sign up.  Before you meet with a new mentor or advisor it’s important you have some idea of your three- to five- year career path.  If you don’t have an idea, seek out those in careers you may be interested in and ask for an informational discussion. Please remember a mentor will require you to bring topics/questions, whether it’s career-strategy, networking tips, resume enhancements, barriers to growth, etc.  Your mentor can assist more with insights from you.
  • Do not overthink reaching out to new people.  Most leaders likely started out as a junior employee.  As a matter of fact, most leader’s still have mentors and their own “Board of Director”.  It’s really important to get comfortable with asking for career advice and building professional partnerships.  While everybody may not have time or respond, I’m pretty sure you’ll get some responses. Let me know if you want tips on how to make initial contacts!

You have a wonderful, bright future, and with a solid “Board of Directors”, you can avoid some roadblocks, increase insights on career decisions or develop a career strategy.

You can do it! I’m already proud of you!

Treva Smith is a federal human resources, diversity and inclusion, and business operations professional, with over 33 years of service.  Treva enjoys advising and mentoring individuals navigate their career paths to meet identified goals. She specializes in career planning and personal branding, and is certified to instruct Business Etiquette through the distinguished Protocol School of Washington and a certified Global Career Development Facilitator through National Employment Counseling Association.

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