We often think of networking as looking outside our current workplace or range of contacts, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the best sources of networking contacts and advice is your mentor.
I am surprised when I hear people don’t use their mentors as a potential source of network opportunities. After all, you chose your mentor because he or she can fill gaps in your skills or knowledge and help you advance your career. You chose your mentor because he or she has experience in your industry and has ‘been there done that’ before you. Surely this must make your mentor the ideal person to help you network.
Let’s explore what a mentor can give you?
Access to the right people
With experience comes a history of relationships and connections gained across the different roles and companies your mentor has worked in. Your mentor has probably also established a solid network to support his or her own career. Tapping into this network will give you access to the right people in the right places – people who you might otherwise have taken years to get through to.
When you build a relationship with your mentor, you open the door to a world of new contacts as well as opportunities. You can become part of your mentor’s network. Because you’re being introduced by a respected network member, you have credibility behind you. The groundwork is done and it’s up to you to start building real connections for yourself.
Improved networking skills
When your mentor invites you to a networking event, make sure you ask for some observations about your networking skills. Their feedback will help you refine them. It’s interesting (and useful) to discover how you are being seen by others; how you are presenting yourself and what your brand image is perceived to be. Such feedback coming from someone you trust is worth gold, as is the advice you get.
In short, a mentor will help you with your personal and professional development, knows the right people, can connect you with the people you need to know, and will help you polish your networking skills to foster new connections. They’ll get you noticed and help you go where you want to go.
Do you have a mentor? If the answer is no, you need to find one. Choose a person who has been successful in your industry, has similar values, proven knowledge and demonstrates the skills you’d like to develop. You might need more than one mentor, and that’s fine. Consider what areas you want to work on and select a mentor with that speciality.
If finding a mentor seems challenging or you’d like to learn more about networking, give me a call. I’d love the opportunity to work with you.