Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk recently wrote a great post on the importance of mentors for one’s career. Discussing the difficultly of finding the right mentors for you — she compares the experience to dating — Trunk lists five ways to find that person or those professionals who will advance your own communication skills and your livelihood. I have condensed these here and included my own ideas and comments.
- Recognize kindred spirits and complementary thinkers. This can be crucial to finding the appropriate mentor. While it is important in life to learn to converse with those who differ vastly from you, it is equally important to find a mentor who understands your motives, viewpoints, and goals. Likewise, you must appreciate your mentor’s career and the decisions — professional and personal — that your mentor has made in his/her life.
- Favors, like compliments, will get you everywhere. People will do nice things for those who are nice to them. It’s as simple as that.
- Communicate often. Invest time. This is a smart strategy for building strong relationships with anyone. Even if it’s just a quick phone call or email to check in, it keeps the other person thinking of you and of what can be done.
- Ask for a formal relationship. To have a true mentor, they should know that they are your mentor. Just ask. They will tell you if they have the time or desire to accept.
- Ask what you should be asking. This may seem silly, but it’s these areas — the things that you don’t see — where your mentor can be of the most help.
Trunk is smart and successful. To read her complete article, with links to additional information, click here.