This is the fifth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. Check back as we walk you through the seven steps that will guarantee your success while working flexibly: Define Your Success; Own Your Value; Activate Your Mindset; Create A Strong Personal Brand; Build Your Networks; Expand Your Ideas on Business Development; and Enhance Your Work-Life Control.
Most successful corporations are led by a CEO who is advised and counseled by an experienced Board of Directors. As a professional working a flexible schedule, you should view yourself as the CEO of your own corporation, and you undoubtedly need a “Board of Directors” to support you. No matter how effective you are on your own, it is critical that you surround yourself with a group of experienced people who can advise you, guide you, mentor you, and open doors for you.
Our fifth strategy for Flex Success® is “Build Your Networks and Personal Board of Advisors.” This personal board of advisors should consist of individuals from inside and outside of your organization. It should include both mentors who can give you advice, and sponsors who invest in and advocate for you. The internal perspectives can assist you in your career advancement and help you to address blind spots in your career path, especially those related to your flex schedule. Your external advisors can provide you with outside perspectives from an industry point of view and can help open doors to new opportunities, if necessary.
As you build your network and personal board of advisors, it’s important to keep in mind that you want to find people who you trust, who you respect, and who will be candid with you. These individuals should be open to constructive conversations about your career as well as the challenges and opportunities your flexible schedule might bring. It’s important to value and maintain your relationships with these mentors and advisors and make sure to meet with them on a regular basis.
In addition to mentors and sponsors, make sure you maintain relationships with your network of coworkers, former colleagues, and classmates. Social media sites such as LinkedIn have made it easy to track down former colleagues and classmates. Make sure to maintain these relationships by reconnecting regularly on a personal, face-to-face basis and attending any reunions and networking events.
One senior professional working a flexible schedule stated, “Mentor relationships have been a major contribution to my flex success, and I think you should have multiple mentors for different parts of your life and career.” She added, “Mentor and mentee relationships are hard to develop – they don’t happen organically all the time – you have to just keep working on it.”
Another noted “I would tell my first year associate self to look up more – lift your head, get out of the office, and start growing professional relationships sooner. Relationship building is just as important as doing good work. I think people shouldn’t feel they have to do it all by themselves; having external support is key to most successes.”
It’s also important to remember that once you are more established in your flexible schedule, don’t forget to help others coming up the ranks with their personal board of advisors. As one law firm partner put it, “I firmly believe in paying it forward by mentoring junior lawyers, especially junior female attorneys of color.”
Contact us for more information about our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®.