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What Is a Mentor And Why You Should Find One For Yourself?

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What Is a Mentor And Why You Should Find One For Yourself?

Especially during the pandemic, you might see friends reaching out to their mentors for career advice. That might lead you to wonder: What is a mentor and how do I get one?

Whatever your goals are, finding a mentor can accelerate your progress. Read on to understand what a mentor is, what one can do for you, and how to find the right one for your needs.

What Is a Mentor?

A mentor is a guide who uses their experience and position to help you accomplish your goals.[1] You can learn from their successes and failures without having to go through the same events they did. Their knowledge will better prepare you for the twists and turns that come with your chosen career.

A mentor can simply be someone you periodically talk to and ask questions from or someone who is there to show you the ropes themselves. Figure out what you hope to get from mentorship, and seek out someone who can help you achieve your goals.

Why Should I Get a Mentor?

Having a mentor is like drinking your morning coffee—sure, you’d wake up eventually, but you’d hit your stride faster with a little caffeine. With a mentor, you’re able to learn so much more and gain so many more opportunities than you would otherwise.

For example, a mentor can introduce you to a colleague who has an internship opportunity for you. In normal circumstances, this internship may be a long shot. A mentor can also answer your questions in real-time, helping you accelerate through your career path.

How Do I Find One?

So are you convinced that a mentor is right for you? Now it’s time to find one. There’s no Tinder-esque mentorship app where you swipe left and right on potential candidates. You’re going to have to take a more active and professional approach to find yourself a mentor.

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Here’s how:

1. Social Media Networking

Thanks to the internet, your network is larger than ever. In particular, social networking sites like LinkedIn provide an excellent platform to connect with business professionals.

You can request to connect with possible mentors on these sites and instant message them through their profile. Be courteous and open with your messaging—an overzealous or immature message can be off-putting right from the start.

Thank each person for connecting with you. Ask a simple question to create a conversation. This can be about the nature of their job or the company they work for. Over time, you can develop a relationship that grows into a full mentorship.

2. Networking Events

Local networking events can be even better than networking online in some cases. While the internet allows you to connect with people no matter their location, attending a networking event is more personal.

Although the COVID-19 crisis has forced sponsors to call off many of these events, opportunities still exist online. Relationship-building service 7:47 still hosts dinners online, creating connections by asking attendees to express gratitude.[2] Many industry-specific conferences are also being held on Zoom.

After the networking event, keep in touch with those who caught your attention. You need to develop a relationship before asking someone to be your mentor.

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3. Personal Branding

Before reaching out to potential mentors, you want to beef up your personal brand. You want to be able to sell yourself to mentors as someone worth their time to coach. Your personal brand will create the first impression you need to win them over.

You can build up your brand through social networking. Your online profiles depict who you are at a basic level. Developing a professional resume and working on your writing can also help portray the type of candidate you are at a glance.

Consistency is key when it comes to branding. Not only do you want your tone and message to line up, but you also want to keep everything up to date. This could include sharing weekly thoughts and questions on LinkedIn as a way to connect and learn from others.

4. Career Fairs

You may find a mentor through your work experiences. Finding a job or an internship can lead you to professionals who are willing to help guide you forward. The most concentrated place to look is at a career fair.

At these fairs, there will be dozens of booths of companies and organizations looking to gain exposure and fill positions. Not only can you send out a ton of resumes and applications here, but you also have a chance to speak one-on-one with recruiters from these businesses.

Before you attend a career fair, prepare some questions for potential employers. You can even ask about their experiences with mentorship within their organization. Let it be known that you’re itching to learn, and they might be able to help connect you with a good mentor.

5. Professional Workshops

Workshops provide a more hands-on experience than your regular career fair. The end goal isn’t necessarily to land a position but to learn a new skill or valuable piece of information. Workshops cover a range of industries, so you should be able to find one that’s right for you.

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At workshops, not only will you have a chance to meet with professionals in their respective fields, but you’ll also rub shoulders with some like-minded individuals who are also in attendance. Speaking with them could be equally beneficial.

Mentors need not be wise old men who traveled the world in 80 days. They could be fellow young professionals looking to get ahead and who happens to have different experiences than you. You can work together to achieve your goals, leaning on each other every step of the way.

6. Speaking Seminars

Many of the world’s highest-ranking business professionals attend speaking events and panels or host seminars for people to pick their brains. These events are sure to teach you something new. Look in your area to see if there are any events like this in the works.

Bring a notepad to soak in every piece of information you can. There will often be a Q&A segment, so be prepared with some questions to ask as well. You might be given the chance to ask one, giving you a five-minute mentorship window with one of the best.

There’s a slim chance you can personally meet the guest of honor for yourself. Regardless, you can always talk to other attendees in your quest for a mentor. Many local business leaders may be there, and it will be a wonderful chance to connect with them as well.

7. College Courses

Students have all the luck when it comes to mentors. People love to share their knowledge and experience with students. If you’re enrolled in school, now is your time to capitalize on the best college experience.[3] Play that “student card” and see where it takes you.

You can start in some of your classroom settings. When you’ve pinpointed the career path you want to follow, start connecting more with your professors. They can help guide you to where you want to go, having followed a similar path to yours. You can also connect with classmates who are on the same career path as you.

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College professors can also continue mentoring you once you’ve graduated. There is no expiration date to mentorship, but you don’t want to wait until after college to start looking for a career. Get started as soon as possible.

8. Clubs and Societies

Organized groups give like-minded people a chance to share interests and grow together. This is another opportunity for you to connect with possible mentors in a setting many don’t consider. Most schools and communities have groups that you might be interested in joining.

Each club and organization has a leader. This is the person you can begin to learn from. They are practically volunteering to be your mentor in exchange for your dedication and contribution to the group.

Don’t forget to learn from your peers along the way. Everyone can be a mentor in some way or another. Take advantage of every learning opportunity you can find. You may even find yourself in a position to mentor another someday.

Final Thoughts

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. You might be surprised who ends up being the one that helps you the most. Line up your goals and start planning ways to find a mentor, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.

More Tips on Finding the Right Mentor

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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