“Networking & connections, networking & connections, networking & connections” the mantra that flows through the mind of many professionals, especially newbies to the corporate world. Although hard work, smart ideas, and dedication are valued in the professional world, it seems that nothing gets a person farther than knowing who to know. But what if you are a first generation American? And your network is really small? Or you know almost no one in your career? We can look at Jonelle Brown’s story to figure out how to navigate the tricky corporate world when it feels that everyone is better connected than you.
Jonelle is your classic type-A, overachiever. She worked hard although school as encouraged by her mother, who was not only an immigrant but a teacher, and therefore really values education and dedication. She got into her field and was shocked that the methods she had applied to school- work and work hard!- did not receive the praises and promotions she expected. Her friends and colleagues with connections always seemed to have someone clearing a path in front of them-- paved, well lit and easier to follow. Yes there may have been twists and turns but Jonelle’s path was uncovered, unlit and hard to navigate on her own. But like any true girl boss, Jonelle kept making her own path as she went. Jonelle was at it alone and faced challenges that taught her valuable lessons through experience.
Jonelle knew that she wanted to grow and blossom in career. “When it was time for me to move on from my entry-level role to grow in my career, I had to convince my mother that it was a smart decision, because she couldn't understand why I would leave a job that was perfectly fine. If you're employed, that's all that matters. I had to explain that I wanted to learn more and grow, and I couldn't do that if I stayed in that role because that career path was limited”. All of these lessons also taught Jonelle the power of connections and friends. She reached out to The Mentor Method to help her forge these powerful relationships from people who get it. A mentor can, and often does, help with the biggest career questions, to the mundane. It is valuable to have someone to bounce your ideas off of and to give strategic career advice.
The three biggest things Jonelle has learned are:
1) "I've learned the importance of networking. No one at the beginning of my career told me it's all about who you know. I thought that being good and working hard was enough; unfortunately, that's not true. I've been lucky enough to have a few people in my corner who, before I even knew the importance of them, spoke up on my behalf, vouched for me in key situations, and offered me valuable advice. It wasn't until later that I looked back at certain moments in my life and realized that I had inadvertently built a little network for myself with solid connections".
2)" Another lesson I've learned was to remember your own power. We've all be in situations where not everyone is kind or has your best interest at heart. It's so easy to let unpleasant people or situations get under your skin. All of that drains your energy. I had to learn not to give my power away and remember that I am strong, smart, and valuable. I determine my happiness".
3)"Finally, the best lesson, and something that I repeat to myself on a very regular basis is 'no one cares about your career more than you do'. When working in a job, it's easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to look up and think about what you want. Early in my career, whenever I made a transition to a new role or company, I felt guilty leaving my old coworkers behind. These people were friends, and I felt like I was abandoning them for something better. However, when I told one colleague that I was leaving the company she said, "Good for you! No one cares about your career more than you do." And she's right; while your employer or company are great, you need to make sure you're taking the necessary steps to get to where you ultimately want to be in life. Whether you decide to change jobs, go back to school, pursue a side hustle, or take a step back to pivot to something else, at the end of the day, you're the one living your life. Your decisions need to serve you best".
We hope that you all learn from Jonelle and create these meaningful friendships. To have a trustworthy advisor is to have a friend, coach, and supporter. That is something everyone deserves, where they are well connected or not! The Mentor Method will help all people looking to “network & connect, network & connect, network & connect”.