Just imagine you are new to a company and have not yet forged any strong bonds with anyone. Or you’ve just started a new business in a field that is somewhat new to you, and you have not connected with any peers in the field. How does that feel?

I can clearly remember when I decided to become a speaker in the world of workplace well-being. I felt like I was on an island all alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I was researching, writing, and going to networking events and conferences. I very slowly connected with peers in the field whom I could learn from and network with. That does not mean I felt comfortable asking them to mentor me.

In the workplace, one assumes their boss is going to be their mentor. But you have to keep in mind how busy the boss may be. Hopefully they’ll assign you a co-worker to buddy up with. But what if you have nothing in common with that person except the work, itself.

Think back to when you were brand new in your field. How did you forge your path forward? How did you find people to interact with, learn from and collaborate with?

I can’t stress enough the importance of accountability partners or mentors at work, no matter what kind of work you do. In Permission to Feel, Marc Brackett stresses that “social support has been demonstrated to be a highly effective buffer against the adverse effects of stress, due to its influence on promoting healthy behaviors.” Brackett goes on to point out that social support can affect your health.

So how do you get started? If you are an entrepreneur, I recommend finding associations and networking groups in your field. If you are working for an organization, I highly recommend getting involved with activities within your workplace, such as employee resources groups (ERGs) or other company-wide programs such as Toastmasters, an excellent organization for learning how to express yourself either in a meeting or in front of a group.

So how can you use an accountability partner to your best advantage?

Your accountability partner is there to challenge you and help you become aware of your career goals, your time management skills, as well as your responses to stress. Having built-in support can help keep you on track with setting your boundaries and your limits. A partner can also help you determine what steps to take when you need to take control and stand up for yourself so that you can prevent burnout.

That is why it is ideal to choose someone from within your organization. They could be a “best friend at work.” If you are unable to engage a dependable buddy in your workplace, you can find or choose someone from outside your company, a trusted friend or mentor.

Humans are wired for social connection. The happiness chemical oxytocin is released when we connect with a friend or trusted confidante. We simply feel better. Not only that, being close to others pays off in other ways as well. In fact, Bill Gates has stated that the feeling of connection and belonging is critical to his success.

In a report entitled “Why We Need Best Friends at Work,” Gallup found that 63 percent of people who have a best friend in their workplace are twice as engaged in their work. Otherwise, without a colleague in the company to commiserate with, work can seem lonely and isolating.

In chapter six of my “Banish Burnout Toolkit,” I share specific ways to ask for help and to honor your accountability partner.