The 5 people you need on your ‘personal board of directors,’ according to a careers expert

We all have people in our lives that hold different roles and responsibilities. But, when it comes to success, strategically finding mentors and supporters who can fill certain positions can make or break your career. In order to achieve your goals and aspirations, your “dream team” must align with your mission.

Lisa Skeete-Tatum, founder and CEO of Landit, a tech company dedicated to career coaching for businesses and individuals, calls her team her “personal board of directors,” and says that without them, her success wouldn’t have been possible. 

“I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for people who believed in me… who saw something in me and took a chance, who helped me see things I didn’t even know were possible,” she tells CNBC Make It.

Here are the five people Tatum says everyone needs on their personal dream team:

A mentor

Most people are familiar with having a mentor, either personally or professionally, that helps coach and mold you into a better version of yourself. According to Guider, a workplace mentorship hub, mentors are responsible for “introducing you to new ways of thinking, challenging your limiting assumptions, sharing valuable life lessons, and much more.” 

However, when approaching a potential mentor, it’s important to allow that relationship to happen organically.

“Many organizations and people think you have to have a mentor, and of course mentors are great. But no one wants you to just walk up to them and say, ‘will you be my mentor,’ because it’s heavy,” says Tatum.

Guider recommends inviting a potential mentor for lunch, or a virtual coffee chat, to “pick their brain” about a certain topic, as opposed to just asking them to assume the role. Having follow-up questions prepared will also help the flow of the conversation.

A sponsor

Having a person that can talk about you is just as important as having someone talk to you. A sponsor is someone who can speak to your strengths and abilities when you’re not there. Sponsors already have a seat at the table, and advocate for you to have one as well. 

Tatum explored the “Sponsor Effect” during her 2018 TED Talk, highlighting the career benefits people with sponsors have observed.

“Those who have sponsors accrue a benefit of 22-30% more in terms of compensation and career progression,” she shared. “And if you are a person of color, it’s 65%.”

A connector

According to Tatum, the connector is someone who “knows everybody, and is able to pick up the phone on your behalf.”

Connectors use their network of relationships, resources, and power built through years of being in a certain field to get you in contact with the right people. 

When designating a connector, identify someone who always knows who to contact to get something done. Make sure they know how to maintain relationships across different fields, and are good at making introductions. Forbes suggests considering someone with a large following on platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter, or someone responsible for organizing and planning company events.

A point expert

Think of your point expert as your personal search engine. This person has all the answers and is always willing to make you privy to information you may need to elevate personally or professionally. 

“We don’t have time to learn everything we need to know, so who is that person who can go 5, 10, 15 questions deep in their area of expertise and can share their knowledge with you,” says Tatum.

A point expert is not only knowledgeable, but skilled, and has real-world experience to back up their information. According to LinkedIn, experts can be identified by their willingness to create guidelines for others, having a broad scope of credentials, and self-educating and adjusting.

A close friend

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