When you’re just beginning a career, the prospect of moving forward, growing, and becoming a leader can seem completely overwhelming. Sometimes it’s easier to just sit tight and hope for the best. Here’s another alternative: find a mentor to guide you through the stages of your career.
A great mentor can be a huge source of inspiration, motivating you through tough challenges. I haven’t been around that long, so I can’t tell you if finding a mentor was easier before Gen Y populated the workforce. But I can tell you that there are some unique challenges for millennials looking to develop a mentorship relationship.
Let’s chat about building a valuable mentor relationship in the digital age — how to do it and why you should bother.
Consider the Benefits
As young people, we get a bad wrap for thinking we know everything… but sometimes it’s true. To grow and move forward in our careers, it’s vital to not only accept but ardently seek out advice and mentorship from those with more experience.
A seasoned industry mentor can provide a lot of things, including:
An objective eye. A mentor can point out your blind spots and help you see new opportunities. They can also help you get past the challenges facing you and put them in perspective.
Experience. There are always things we wish we could go back and tell our earlier selves. You can benefit from gaining that knowledge earlier by learning from your mentor’s past mistakes, successes, and hard-earned wisdom.
A sounding board. How can I move up the ladder within my company? What steps should I take to showcase my leadership? What does the natural progression of a career in my industry look like? A mentor can help you navigate these unknowns.
An expanded network. A mentor represents all of the connections she holds. You’re connected through them, opening up and expanding your network and building new opportunities.
Move Beyond An ‘Instant Gratification’ Mentality
We’re the Tinder generation, where snap decisions are made on whether to swipe right or left, and relationships have exactly one date to prove if they’re worth our time or not. But that mentality of instant gratification isn’t how truly meaningful relationships are built — mentorship or otherwise.
It’s understandable that Millennials can sometimes be detached when it comes to building lasting relationships. Building a meaningful connection can be a long-term process, and isn’t always a guarantee. Nurturing a mentorship requires looking forward and putting yourself out there — that can be scary for the now generation. But investing time into naturally developing a positive relationship has nothing but upside.
Build a Relationship
When you’re ready to put aside your need for instant satisfaction and find a mentor, there are plenty of ways to find one. Before we get to it, a word of caution for you: Don’t rule anyone out. Just because someone is your uncle or manager or best friend’s sister’s boyfriend doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable experience and advice to offer you.
Step 1: Meet As Many People As You Possibly Can
It’s simple probability – the more people you know, the more likely one of them is the perfect mentor for you, right?
Invest time in getting out there within your industry, local area, or online neighborhood. Look for people who are living your dream, and find out how they got there.
Follow conversations in groups on LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, etc.
Head over to Clarity.fm and chat up a well-known industry voice.
Step 2: Reach Out and Connect Around a Shared Passion
You can’t force a relationship, and you can’t treat it like a zero-sum game. When you first start building it, make an effort to give more than you receive.
Share their articles or other work on social media
Engage in a conversation on Twitter
Respond to surveys, comments, or polls they post
Consider this your own feeling out process. After all, your mentor should fit you as much as you fit them.
Step 3: Ask For Advice
Once a genuine relationship grows, you can feel comfortable asking for advice and mentorship. As you continue to develop your relationship and shared passion, they’ll be happy to hand over a little bit of their time and wisdom.
The important part is to always have relationship cultivation at the forefront. A mentor isn’t someone you get one piece of advice from and then abandon. Mentorship, like any other relationship, is about mutual understanding and give and take.
The Age of Tinder (and all that it entails) has brought on a new host of challenges when it comes to finding a mentor, but it’s far from impossible. Mentorship has the power to enrich understanding of your world and help you leapfrog into your dream career. When it comes to building lasting, beneficial relationships, the extra effort is always worthwhile.
How has a mentor impacted your life and career? Share with us in the comments below!