When thinking of the word “mentor” most of us picture a one-on-one relationship. Usually, many of us see this person as guiding us throughout our careers, giving us advice, and meeting with us regularly.
While all that can – and often does – describe a mentor, this type of relationship usually doesn’t come about immediately. First, you have to find someone who fits what you’re looking for, which may only come after several months of networking. Then, you’ll have to see if they’re able to devote the time and energy to helping you. Even if they want to, their availability may be far less than what you’re hoping for.
So, what can you do? Fortunately, there’s another option: find people with careers you admire, learn about where they came from, and observe what makes them successful. This could be someone a few levels above you at your current organization, a former colleague you’re connected to on LinkedIn, or even an industry blogger you’ve never met.
Yes, that’s right – your career mentor may not even know they’re your mentor! While it’s extremely valuable to have someone you can bounce things off of, it’s not the only way to learn from your role models.
So, if you don’t have much – or any – time to talk with these potential mentors, how can you find out about them? To name a few, through:
1) LinkedIn: Here, you can easily see the path they’ve taken to get where they are today. You can also see what groups they’re a part of, and join them yourself.
2) At Work: Not only will it be easier to actually get face time with a potential mentor, you’ll actually get to see them in action.
3) Industry Participation: In which organizations are your career role models involved? Do they have a blog, write for a trade journal, or volunteer?
One of the best things about this method is that you can watch how several association leaders have grown, take what works for you, and leave the rest!