There are several ways that you can get your mentorship journey started today even if you don't have an official mentor yet. Read five great sources of inspiration that can help you grow and develop your skills.
If you don’t have a mentor, you can still get mentoring—i.e., ideas, information, encouragement—from other sources. You just need to be proactive about seeking out and asking for the help that you need. Here are five sources for finding the career advice and business inspiration you would want from a mentor:
One of the key benefits of a mentor who has walked the career path you are pursuing is seeing your potential future today. You can learn similar lessons by reading biographies about successful people in your industry. Even general business success stories give ideas about how to handle a particular management situation or analyze a decision. Seeing the obstacles that others have overcome provides encouragement that you can do the same.
2. Compilation lists from business publications
Similar to biographies, profiles in business publications often trace the career arc of success stories in various industries. Forbes compiles numerous lists—most powerful people, highest-paid celebrities, most innovative leaders, etc. I recently read this short but fascinating profile of Dolly Parton, which outlined her various income streams and philanthropic efforts—a helpful career guide for someone with multiple interests looking to juggle their creative, business and mission-driven pursuits.
3. University career services
Even if you graduated many years ago, more and more universities are extending career services offerings to alumni. Networking events and alumni databases are two specific offerings that might lead you to a future mentor or a mentor for just one day or just one question.
4. Professional associations
I know a small business association that matches new volunteers with more experienced professionals. While the purpose of this was specific to learning the organization, such relationships could very easily expand to other issues, including running and growing your business. Another trade organization focused on women in management roles organizes peer coaching groups, which provide business mentorship in a group setting.
5. Personal board of directors
Like companies that have a board of directors to advise them on strategy, operations, and other critical business issues, you can curate your own personal board that consists of people you admire who can help you in a variety of areas. Unlike a company board that meets quarterly, takes minutes, and has other official procedures, you might have a more informal group that only you know about. Or, you might make it more formal and bring the group together—expanding their networks by introducing your advisers to each other.
You have choices for how you get mentored
You can seek out a formal mentor, build a board of directors, or piece together mentors from books, articles, and ad hoc networking interactions. Set a measurable goal—for example, to ask one question per month. You could target 12 different mentors—one for each month—to try out 12 different people. Or, you might focus on a handful of people and go back to them regularly to see if these relationships will grow into a more official 1:1 mentorship or personal board. Now you have no excuse to get the advice and inspiration you need to move your business forward!
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