A 15-minute Tedx talk is a viciously short amount of time to detail how to actually connect with a mentor so I am doing a series of blog posts to provide more detail about this important skill. To recap the three steps I discuss in the talk:
1) Know thyself
See my previous blog post for more suggestions on this. In this post I provide a number of suggestions on how to increase your knowledge about yourself because once you understand yourself you are better positioned to reach out to a specific mentor with a sense of purpose.
2) Reflect on Who to Reach Out To
Read on for more detail on this step.
3) Connect with Courage
Stay tuned for more detail on this step.
So let’s take a closer look at this whole idea of reflecting on whom to reach out to as a means towards getting a career mentor. In my Tedx talk, folks in the audience get about 5 seconds to reflect on who to reach out to by thinking about whom they admire. Five seconds might be ample time for some but most of us need more time. So, I would encourage you to ask yourself the question “Who do you admire?” at multiple times in various settings over the next week or so.
Researchers in creativity have found that many times answers come to us not when we are trying really hard but more often during transition times (i.e., showering, driving, waking up) so be open to those small moments of inspiration. We all have next steps in our personal and professional lives and there are people we look to for inspiration. Who are these people for you? Here are some suggestions to stimulate your thinking around who do you admire and who to reach out to:
Ideas and suggestions
1) Browse some Ted talks in your areas of interest.
2) Ask three friends or colleagues to tell you whom they admire.
3) Research the leaders of professional organizations in your area.
4) If you are in business, check out Fortune Magazine’s list of the Best Places to Work and examine the leadership of those companies.
5) Look at specialized list of leaders (i.e., Top 50 women in Hollywood or Top Realtors in the South Bay, etc.)
6) Think about who stands out in your organization, profession or life whose example inspires you.
7) Ask yourself who do you want to be like when you “grow up” if you think about growing up as taking your next step to learn and develop.
8) Look at best selling business books—for example Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) and Blake Mycowskie (CEO of Tom’s shoes) have both written great books about their companies and philosophies—these are excellent starting places for inspiration.
9) Do some research on bloggers in your areas—there might be a source of inspiration waiting for you online.
10) If this fits you, try taking a Jesuit approach to this question of who do you admire and who might be a great career mentor for you. In other words, ask for inspiration from your Higher Power and notice if some answers emerge.
Building your network
Once you have a list of names—I recommend you aim for five names at least, then take a listen to my talk for how to best connect with them. I highly recommend that you try the “warm connect approach.” A warm connect is where you get someone you know to provide an introduction. Make a long target list and keep persevering—eventually you will add to your mentoring network.
I do recognize that I it is not always possible to get the mentor of your dreams right away and perhaps not ever. That’s okay. In the interest of full disclosure, like most book authors I long for Oprah Winfrey to swoop in and mentor me! While I have been very close to the warm connect with her a few times, no interest in me from Oprah yet! That’s okay—I can still be inspired by her success and learn from her by reading what she writes and watching her interview people.
It is possible to have an inspirational mentor who may not even be alive (For example, I am struck by how many successful folks still cite Martin Luther King as their inspirational mentor). An inspirational mentor can be someone you learn from but who inspires you and provides you with motivation and ideas. Remember we need a network of mentors so think about having at least one inspirational mentor along with a few career mentors that you can connect with in person periodically.
Who do you admire? Who can you reach out to? Think about it—it can change your life.
You just read Part 2 of this series. Click below to read the other parts of:
How to Get a Mentor in 3 Steps in 3 Weeks