Managing a Team

How to Build an Inclusive Network

Building an inclusive network can support you as you move through the different stages of your career. Learn how to identify and nurture a diverse mentorship network.

Blog Author - Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
May 23, 20233 minutes
Blog Author - Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
1 postAuthor's posts
blog - hero - offer - great - employee - benefits - package - nonprofit

Throughout the many stages of a career, identifying and nurturing a diverse mentorship network provides people with the opportunity to listen, learn, and grow from a breadth of perspectives. Diverse voices — those from different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, business areas, or stages of their career — are invaluable when it comes to problem solving, management, and weighing career development opportunities.

As the VP of DEIB, Social Impact, and Sustainability at Justworks, my career has ebbed and flowed, but seeking out and developing relationships with a group of diverse mentors along the way has propelled me to where I am today. Here are three tips that can help you build an inclusive network.

Steps to Building An Inclusive Network

To begin any mentorship network, it’s easiest to start with people with whom you identify or have something in common. These can be people that work in the same industry or have the same interests.

However, if your goal is to further develop, it’s important to seek out people with various perspectives, skill sets, and experiences, to facilitate lasting relationships with them, and to continue to expand your network throughout your career.

Identify a Diverse Network of Mentors

When selecting potential mentors, consider their skill set and background, and think about your own career trajectory. Aim to choose a group of diverse voices that can offer a range of perspectives. It can be easier to gravitate towards people that you identify with or have something in common with, but seeking diverse voices will enrich your experience, and allow you to think about opportunities and challenges through different lenses.

I have grown my network of mentors to include folks in various fields and business specialties outside of my own. The advice and support I receive from each of them is unique, and helps me navigate different aspects of my career. Actively developing this diverse network allows me to tap into different expertise, which provides me with well-rounded perspectives and ways of thinking about challenges or opportunities in a way I might not have.

Facilitate Lasting Relationships

Creating a regular cadence of mentorship meetings that works for both the mentor and mentee is vital to the value of these relationships. Between day-to-day work, family, hobbies, and more, it can be challenging to ask the people in your network to carve out time to connect. In my experience, this becomes easier as trust is built between the mentor and mentee, but here are a few things to consider when scheduling time with a mentor.

  • Be specific about the discussion topics you’re hoping to cover during a meeting. Share a high-level overview of the challenge you’re hoping to tackle with this person’s support, or ask any questions right off the bat. This can help provide a framework for the conversation, and determine how much time might be needed.

  • Create a recurring meeting schedule, if possible. This might change over time, but meeting on a quarterly basis (or even bi-annually) is a great way to ensure there are touchpoints with a new mentor you’re developing a relationship with. These regular meetings can help establish career context and goals, and act as a forum for storytelling or more general career updates. In other words, you won’t be starting from scratch every time you meet!

  • Acknowledge how a mentor’s support/advice helped solve a specific problem. This might not be relevant after every meeting, but if someone has offered their time to review something with you, it’s important to provide regular updates or keep them in the loop. Let them know how you’ve handled a challenge, made a decision about a career opportunity, or learned something from an experience they shared or coached you through. This can help to build lasting relationships with your network of mentors.

Expand Your Network

As any career develops, new challenges, decisions, and opportunities arise. It’s important that your network of mentors grows with you to support you throughout these different stages of your career (and life). Perhaps that means identifying mentors in the C-Suite as your responsibilities grow, or maybe you’ve experienced a career change and need to seek mentors who have taken similar paths.

One easy way is to ask current mentors or people in your network to introduce you to someone who can help provide a new perspective or help in an area of growth you’ve identified.

Expanding your network also includes fostering relationships with a diverse group of mentees. Offering to support people in earlier stages of their careers is a great way to reflect on your own journey, make additional connections on behalf of those mentees in your current network, and to add new, valuable perspectives into your existing network.

While your network of mentors might live beyond the walls of your current workplace, organizations can support their employees in identifying and nurturing a diverse network of mentors by investing in impactful DEIB programs like hiring, career development, and even formal mentorship programs. Afterall, the most meaningful mentors any employee can have are those located right inside the company.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Blog Author - Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
Yrthya Dinzey-Flores
May 23, 20233 minutes

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