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How to find your circle of support
Having a circle of support involves a group of people coming together to help support your goals and ambitions. The circle acts as a community, with you at the centre. Establish yours today.
What you will learn
- How to identify who is within your network of support
- How to approach people for help and advice – whether that’s in your career or otherwise
Whether you're beginning your career journey or looking to change direction in your current role, it's important to have a reliable and trustworthy circle of support. This network of people are those you can turn to for advice, motivation and help when you need it most.
Looking for work can be a stressful task but by recognising who is within your circle of support you’re able to lean on a group of people who can answer questions, lead you in the right direction and potentially open doors for you.
How to identify who is within your circle of support
Your circle of support can be anyone that you are close with: family, friends and neighbours can be a great starting point when having conversations about your career.
Take the time to recognise those who are within your inner circle, those who might be useful to get to know and those in your outer circle.
Is there someone in your day to day life who works in a similar sector? Create a contact list of people who you know from school, university, colleagues from previous jobs or even those you may know from the gym. These are all people that you already have contact with and could be considered within your inner circle of support. They can help you in your career journey and can give helpful insights to your career goals. They can help you to get more of an understanding around where you could go in your career.
Once you have established who is in your inner circle you can start to build upon your network and find out who may be useful to get to know and widen your outer circle.
Building your circle of support
Building your circle of support can be relatively simple. You can find new contacts by joining and contributing to professional groups on LinkedIn (you can read our article on how to get started on LinkedIn). Connect with people you might already know, have done business with or even know socially - you may be surprised by how many contacts are already signed up.
You can also curate your LinkedIn feed by following contributors and companies you like for some inspiration. Get involved with conversations, you’ll then start to see your circle of support expanding. Remember that LinkedIn is a professional network and it’s a great way of building your network and contact list, people are always looking to share their experiences and advice, the first step is to ask for it.
Outside of LinkedIn, reaching out to those within your inner circle can be a great way to widen your support network. Someone you attended university or college with could introduce you to a someone within their company that could help you to gain employment or advice on shaping your CV.
The Skills Development Scotland Careers Advisers can also be a great way to expand your circle of support. They offer advice when looking for a job or identifying career paths right for you and can connect you to further training and qualification resources.
How to approach your network for help
Get to the point
Approaching anyone for help can be a daunting task, especially for career advice. Think about your career goals:
- Is there a role in mind you would like to apply for?
- Is there a field or industry you would like some advice on?
- Is there a company you would like to work for in the future?
This is a good way to then plan who you approach for advice. These questions help you to be specific and get straight to the point with whatever you need assistance with. This can also lead to expansion within your network by one person introducing you to someone that can help you most. Having a clear understanding of what you would like to gain by approaching someone for advice can help you to get the most out of someone in your network.
Ask yourself why you want to reach out to the person for support. Having a clear mindset can help you plan/think about what information you would like to gain.
Understand what you would like from them. It might be a conversation about your options, perhaps you’re looking for a mentor, or you may like support within your current role. The more you have in your mind prior to reaching out the clearer you can be.
If you have never met this person, introduce yourself to them, reach out through an email or LinkedIn message and invite them for a chat to discuss your goals. If you’re reaching out to someone you know, don’t be afraid to tell them what you need help with.
Having a quick chat is a great way get your questions across and seek out the help you desire. Whether this is 10 minutes over the phone, through a video call or even meeting for a coffee, taking the time to connect can help expand your circle of support and make the person more comfortable to share their wisdom with you.
Be courteous and genuine
Manners will always matter. Thank the people within your circle of support for their advice and help. They are taking the time to help you and can be a constant figure of support within your career.
Maintain your relationship and keep in contact with them afterwards. Insider knowledge and support can be an invaluable tool that can help you to shape the way your career progresses and the people who help you along the way could be your co-worker, boss or genuine friend as you go forward.
Staying motivated can be hard when you’re looking for a job. We all go through periods lacking motivation which is why it is important to have a strong circle of support. Reaching out to professional people within your desired industry is brilliant for tapping into career advice, however your family, friends and people you are close with can keep you motivated, whatever industry or position they are in.
The biggest task can be reaching out for support, but it can also be the key to your success.
Some other articles you may find helpful
The seven Cs of communication is a list of principals for making sure what you write and what you say gets your point across effectively.
Networking isn’t just formal – find out how different networks of people can help you get your next job.
Reaching out and presenting your best self to new people can feel daunting. But there are ways to help you prepare to put your best foot forward.