Networks aren’t always formal; the informal ones are just as powerful. They often include the people who give you the confidence to go out and build your professional connections. Today I’d like to talk about one network you may have overlooked. It’s one we all have but perhaps you never really thought of this group as a network.
What is it?
It’s your collection of cheerleaders.
In my opinion, a cheerleader does more than making a big noise about you. Your cheerleaders care about you, admire you, support you, encourage you and praise you often and to others. They are your advocates in the workplace and often your sponsors or mentors.
When you think about it, these are the people who come to you, saying, “I’ve just seen a job you’d be perfect for” or “I know someone who can help.” That’s exactly what networking is all about.
Let me ask you… Who are your cheerleaders?
This may not be something you’ve thought about before. It’s even possible you might take it for granted when certain people praise you or offer support. It’s a comfortable routine you’ve become so used to that you don’t even question it.
Now’s the time to stop and look at who’s on your side, who are cheering you on – who forms your tribe or community.
Why care about your cheerleaders?
Every day you have to get up and start work again. Every day you have to face the people or situations which bothered you the previous day. Sometimes you have a really bad day or a spectacular failure and the last thing you want to do is try again.
Your cheerleaders are the ones who get you started again. They inspire you to keep going. They give you a push when you need it and a stern talking-to as well. Women, in particular, may struggle with self-promotion or talking about their success, but a cheerleader will happily do it for you. They have faith in you and show it.
Without your network of cheerleaders, life would be a lot more difficult. Their positivity is infectious.
How to maintain a good relationship with your cheerleaders.
Say thank you. Now that you’re consciously paying attention to the people around you, notice who is cheering you on and acknowledge them. Say thank you when they offer help and encouragement, or when they cheer you up. They’ve chosen to do it because they like and respect you, but they won’t do it for long if their efforts aren’t appreciated. It’s such a simple thing to do for them.
Connect. This kind of network usually springs out of existing relationships. You understand each other. To build or maintain any relationship you need to put time into it. Make the effort to catch up occasionally whether it’s for a chat or something longer over lunch or coffee. If the distance is an issue, call or email to keep the conversation going.
Keep them informed. Your cheerleaders will love to hear your goals and plans because they love to help you. If they know what you are working towards, they’ll actively scout for opportunities for you. They want to be engaged in the process. While this benefits you, your cheerleaders will be proud to help you on your way.
Celebrate together. Any progress is good and if it has come with the help of your cheerleaders, it’s even better. Regardless, make sure you invite your cheerleaders to celebrate with you even if it’s only a small success. It’s great for the relationship and it’s fun, too.
It goes two ways. The best way to find and care for your cheerleaders is to be one yourself. Every successful relationship is two-sided – they cheer for you and you cheer for them. Help keep the relationship energised through your positivity and your willingness to help them advance in their careers (or lives) too.
Author Niedria Dionne Kenny said, “You don’t need followers, you need supporters. Followers wait for you to make it happen. Supporters see to it that you make it happen.” That’s exactly what your cheerleaders do so isn’t it worth your while to look after them?
Do you have cheerleaders? How do you nurture your relationship with them?