Do you have a career entourage? If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for extra stress, frustration and limited success. No one can go it alone, especially as a job seeker. But having an entourage is about more than just networking – it’s about building a strategic core of individuals who will help you accomplish your career objectives. Whether you’re actively searching for a new position or simply looking for a promotion or upward advancement, having an entourage is essential. Here’s who should make it onto your list.

1. The mentor.

Do you have a mentor yet? If you think you don’t need a mentor – you’re wrong. Not having a mentor was one of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career. I started a job working with the Army and thought I could get by with my razor sharp wit (clearly I wasn’t trying to get by on humility). But the military is all about chain of command, rank and structure, and a lot of other ‘soft skills’ that are absolutely not a part of a liberal arts education. I could have saved myself many headaches if I had simply reached out to someone and asked them to show me the ropes. I think I took for granted that my superiors would ‘advise’ me on the proper path to take in my career. Unless you’re blessed with a truly spectacular boss, however, their focus will not be on keeping you happy and looking holistically at your career. That’s all about you, and why you need to get out their and pursue a mentor.

2. The mentee.

Pretty much every professional out there should have both a mentor and a mentee – is there a person inside or outside your organization you can assist with their career? Is there someone who is in a parallel industry you can help out? Every career is a give-and-take, and you should always look to be a giver. As mentioned above, the obligation is on the mentee to make a connection. But as you should know first-hand, it’s not easy to ask for help. Give another professional an unexpected surprise and offer to start getting together to talk work-life goals. Even if you’re an entry-level professional, look to how you can be an asset to someone still in high school or college. Who knows, down the road they may be able to point you in the path of a career opportunity you hadn’t thought of.

3. The proofreader.

Growing up, I had severe math anxiety. (Okay, I still have severe math anxiety – why do you think I’m working as a writer?) I literally made my older brother (who’s now a CPA), check my math homework for me every night (thanks, bro!). A little over the top, perhaps? But that boost of confidence when I passed my paper back to be checked by the classmate sitting behind me was priceless. Now, you probably can’t forward every proposal to your mom to review. And if you’re working in a cleared workspace, you probably shouldn’t be forwarding anything outside of your office. If you’re a job seeker, however, it’s worth getting someone on the line to review your resume and cover letters. Probably not for every application you submit, but at least for the big ones. And if you’re working on a major project at work you’re able to discuss outside of the office, don’t hesitate to bounce ideas off of your spouse or friends. They may get sick of it if it’s a nightly occurrence, but if you only do so occasionally, they should see it as a compliment. And you’ll benefit from the thought diversity.

4. The advocate.

This is like the mentor, but in contrast to that person, it could be someone in your immediate or extended chain of command. Do you have a champion? Someone who will root for you if you find yourself in a difficult argument? Look for someone within your office who can be that person – who values your professional opinion, and who, quite frankly, thinks more highly of yourself than even you do. Don’t think anyone is your advocate? Think through your major projects over the past year – was anyone particularly impressed with your work? Did anyone send you any significant accolades or thank-yous? You should send every major ‘thank you’ ‘you rock’ or ‘you did it!’ email in a special folder. This is great fodder for your annual review, and also a good way to flesh out who your advocate might be.

5. The skeptic.

This is the yin and yang of the advocate position. Is there someone at work who you constantly butt heads with in a professional manner? The person who always questions your ideas in meetings, or who is willing to challenge you on projects? It may be easy to reject this person as your workplace enemy, but really, you should think of him or her as more of a ‘frenemy’ – and a vital member of your career entourage. Consider grabbing coffee with this person on occasion – if you understand the perspective behind their opinions, you’re less likely to take it personally every time they disagree with you. If this person is truly combative, not collaborative, than they’re not a skeptic, they’re just a jerk. And save your coffee money for someone else. But keep in mind that not everyone who disagrees with you is wrong. If you’re able to find someone in your office who takes on projects from a different angle, you can begin working together to refine your position before you have to present it before the whole team – and face the skeptics in a meeting.

Just because you work in a top secret position, doesn’t mean you need to go through your career in stealth mode. Having a group of individuals who are a part of your career will set you up for greater success, whether it’s landing a new position, getting a promotion, or simply staying happy in the job you already have.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer