Do you want to stay relevant? Keep your skills sharp? Stay motivated? Bring a fresh perspective to your work? There’s one simple answer… find a mentor!
Mentoring relationships help add objectivity to current dilemmas, enhance your self-awareness and understanding of others’, and they help you determine your best path forward. Effective mentors are champions, challengers, allies, and sponsors. Most people I speak to don’t have any doubt that a great mentoring relationship is just what the doctor ordered. More often, they aren’t sure where to go to find a mentor. Here are three ideas:
1. Check Industry Social Media
I have been fortunate to meet most of my current mentors through their social media presence. Bloggers and podcasters produce a tremendous body of work that allows you to get to know their philosophies and determine if you think their communication style is a good fit. It’s also a great idea to check the authors who have written for industry magazines and websites. These authors are often prolific and will mention specific case studies or work they have done.
I’m not suggesting that you email your favorite podcaster and ask her to be your mentor. You certainly CAN! But, keep in mind that this is just the first doorway. These social media gurus will often mention colleagues and other lesser-known writers in their work, which could be a great source for a mentor as well. As a last resort, I’ve connected with well-known folks who were way too busy to mentor me, but I asked them if they would mind connecting me with someone in their network who also excelled at (fill in your desired mentoring topic here.) They were often happy to do it!
2. Ask Your Heroes
I have developed relationships with all but one of my professional heroes. (I’m working my way towards meeting you, Brene Brown!) As a matter of fact, I am fortunate to work with many of them. (Ahem! Lou Russell!) In every single case, I developed a reason to connect with the individual. I made sure I was well-read in their work, so that I could be respectful and credible in the conversation, and I always, always came to the table with an offer to help them in some way.
Just like the previous suggestion, you don’t have to think of your hero as your end-goal. It might be that you find other fans of your hero and create a professional community. Or, you attend their workshop / speaking engagement and connect with the people around you.
3. Join Some Groups
The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find your perfect mentor. Consider joining online communities through LinkedIn and Facebook (but be an active part of those communities!) Also, attend professional association meetings, conferences, and local workshops to get to know others in your area.
I believe everyone should have at least one professional mentor that they can turn to for guidance. A great mentor can help you clarify your options during difficult times, and can help you celebrate during the victories. If you don’t have someone like that, go seek one out right away! If you do, make sure you let them know.