mentors count

16 09 2009

At last night’s Girl Geek Dinner (GGD Ottawa) event with Tara @missrogue Hunt, we discussed the importance of mentors in helping with personal and professional success. It can be difficult to seek out mentors but if you take a look around, you’ll see they’re easy to find.

Mentors serve as a trusted teacher or counselor, but a mentorship doesn’t always have to be a formal relationship and a mentor doesn’t always have to be a person working in the same field as yourself. Yes, of course it helps to have a go-to person who’s been there and done that and can give you advice or guidance as you strive to reach your career goals, etc. But…a mentor can pop up in the most unlikely places.

If you take a moment, who in your life represents that role? Perhaps there is a person or persons – a friend, relative or colleague – who already fit into this role but you didn’t consider them in this light before. Perhaps you are a mentor yourself without even realizing it.

Whatever the case, mentors are extremely important. Mentorships are a nurturing relationship giving us the courage to bring ideas into action, to take risks and to learn from our mistakes. But the rewards of mentorship is reciprocal. Mentors get just as much out of the relationship and the mentoree. Sharing your knowledge and experiences provides you the opportunity to “pay forward” from your own experience with success and failure.

When seeking a mentor, you first need to define your goals (business goals, personal goals, whatever they may be). What kind of guidance are you looking for? If you have a specific person in mind to fulfill this role – what experiences does this mentor have that aligns with your own goals?

Seek your mentors by networking. This can be a professional or personal process. Attend events in your career field, find people who share your passions and nuture those relationships. Research the Web and join online communities like Twitter to seek people with the knowledge and expertise you’re looking for. This also gives you the opportunity to share your own experiences and expertise.

Mentoring is a lifelong process. Although a mentor may only be in your life for a short time, there is always going to be someone you look to for guidance and advice. And in turn, you can become a mentor to someone else. The process is ongoing!

Last night at GGD Ottawa, Tara counted her own personal mentor in helping her to keep moving forward with her dream to own her own business even when her first attempt to own a business didn’t work out so well. I count my mentors as a mix of people in my personal and professional life who have helped me build confidence to pursue my career goal in social media. I’ve also mentored students entering the marketing field and count it as one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life.

Take a look around. Who are your mentors? What have they helped you to achieve? Are you a mentor yourself? I’d love to hear your stories.

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