If you want to kill it in your career, having a sharp sounding board to bounce ideas and decisions off will go a long way.
When should I push for promotion? What’s the best way to the top? Where can I whisk up more money? How do I become better at what I do?
These are the sort of serious queries a mentor can help with, as well as a plethora of off-the-cuff questions specific to your canny career plan. They can also help devise a canny career plan.
Where do you find these well-meaning wits?
Have a think about the people you look up to. People you like. People who go about their business in a way you respect.
They don’t have to be in the same company, industry or even continent. But they do have to be good people that you want to associate with and learn from.
So while parents can be terrific, old bosses are pretty good too. Your brother’s mates, mum’s bridge friends or an articulate aunty can apply within as well. Just make sure they do things in a manner you admire and have some accomplished experience to tap into.
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How do you get the ball rolling?
There’s no need to formalise the relationship with a proposal, or even mention the word mentor if you don’t want to. If you prefer a formal approach, that’s sweet too.
The only essential step is asking for advice when you need it.
When you come to a juncture, are faced with a tough decision or are battling or bored at work, you have to take the initiative and seek them out. Ask for input on the conundrum you’re facing and suck up their experience.
It’s even better if you can tap into a couple of wells of knowledge, so think about whether there’s more than one person in your life to ask important questions of.
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Why does it work?
I recently had a tough career call to make and put it to two mentors of mine. Both had very different experiences to share, one tough and the other terrific, but each weighed in with similar advice wrapping it up.
Their different perspectives provoked me to ask questions I might not have considered, and their final advice helped make the call.
Now, I know that all sounds nice and convenient, but it was only a matter of asking for opinions on the scenarios I faced. No formal notes or awkward meetings, just chats with people I respect and admire.
And they, like most any mentor you come across, were happy to help.
You see, people love sharing their experience, especially when it’s sought after by a young buck keen to learn. It makes them feel valued, respected and honoured.
And that’s great for you. Because, not only do they benefit, but by sharing their advice they have a vested interest in your success, and so are more likely to follow up and think about how they can help you get to where you want to go.
Once that relationship is established, it’s easy to maintain and likely to last, cranking the cogs of your career from here on in. So, go on, sort it out and find a sounding board.
Image: normalityrelief, via Flickr