This question was posed by a young man I met last week at a conference to a room full of professionals.
People offered what I would consider “good” advice:
1. Reach out to colleagues.
2. Try to make a connection with people you respect face to face or via Facebook.
3. Network! Network! Network!
Good advice, but I don’t think either of us thought it was particularly new or groundbreaking. More importantly, I was fairly confident that it was something he had already tried or that it didn’t address his need for support in the present.
All that being said, it was an excellent question! And it reinforced my belief that young people/professionals are looking for guidance and struggle to find it.
I know people who have successfully found mentors using any or all three of the above suggestions, and they’ve even worked for me and could work for you.
Yet, I think you can benefit most from drawing on your immediate circles, you know, those people who are already around and more readily available to offer their support and insight.
Perhaps it seems obvious, but it is easy to overlook those people who are a part of your everyday life. You may already have access to those best positioned to provide the perspective or solid advice you seek.
Mentors don’t have to be people with title or prestige (but these people shouldn’t be excluded),they might be a colleague, classmate, friend, professor or advisor, or perhaps a former youth leader or someone you’ve volunteered with before, or even family.
My mother is still one of my most valuable mentors, I’ve relied on her professional expertise most of my life. Her advice and support has gotten me through important job interviews, conflicts at work, and critical professional decisions.
So before you start sending out those emails to request those coffee meetings, I’d suggest you not stray too far from home and look to those with whom you are already connected.
They may just be waiting for you to ask!
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