Build Your Tribe for Career Success

It is great to say you have 500+ LinkedIn connections or thousands of Twitter followers, but are they in your tribe?

In my book, Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, which I co-authored with Susan Lahey, your tribe is described as follows:

Your tribe is the group of people who will get you through your Career Pivot, because believe me,with all this change, facing uncertain prospects and being humble while asking for help, you are going to need some people rooting for you. Your tribe is also the group you can call on for an introduction or some advice over coffee. And they can call on you, too–whether for themselves, or for a friend who wants some intelligence about your areas of expertise. It’s like the barn raising communities where you all help your neighbor build his barn, knowing—without asking– he’ll show up with lunch and a hammer to help you raise yours.

Build Your Tribe for Career Success image shutterstock 115319626 300x217Business Connections from ShutterstockThe reality is we can maintain a maximum of about 150 relationships in our lives

Make a list of all of the people you can go to for a favor and you are sure that favor will be granted.

It sure is a lot smaller than the 500+ connections on LinkedIn. That is Your Tribe!

What your tribe can do

Just about ten years ago, after a near fatal bicycle accident, I decided to volunteer for a layoff from my high tech employer and I pursued my Texas high school math teaching certificate. I was hired at an inner city high school to teach Algebra and where the turn over was incredibly high. It was a tough place to start a teaching career.

Every three weeks I sent out an e-mail to a list of about 100 people. I wrote about my kids, yes they were my kids. 90% of my kids were of color and came from poverty. I realized after a very short period of time I was not in a high school that I was familiar with. I grew up in a mostly white, middle class, suburban neighborhood, where most parents were married and educated. Where I taught was an urban school, with majority minority population, single parent families and poverty. I found myself saying Toto we are not in Kansas anymore!

These e-mails were my blog. This group became my tribe. More importantly they became my fan club.
I received lots of advice and help but more importantly I received love and support. I would not have made it through my first year of teaching with out my tribe!

I had my tribe to support me!

Building your tribe

You probably already have a tribe. You just need to define who currently belongs.

Dig through your e-mail directory, LinkedIn contacts and FaceBook friends identity those people that if you needed help you would feel comfortable going to them. Create a list of everyone who meets this criteria.

After you finish, analyze this list for skill set, generations, occupations, and other factors. What is missing?

When I went through this exercise a couple of years ago, I realized how few local sales people I knew and could depend on.

The next step is to actively seek out those individuals who can fill the holes in your tribe.

The last step is to actively cultivate your tribe but that is for another post!

Do you know who is in your tribe?


Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, published in January 2013, which has been featured on, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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