You’re Never Getting a Mentor. So Do These 6 Things Instead
Formal mentors are hard; besides, chances you already have the resources you need if you know where to look.
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Finding a mentor is hard.
Getting somebody to invest themselves indefinitely in your career success, like an unpaid coach, is more than many people can reasonably pull off.
Here’s what to do instead:
#1 Stalk People You Admire Online
What sorts of things are people at the same level as you post, where, and how often?
Who are they following and talking to?
Pay attention over time, and you’ll gradually get a sense of your own strengths and weaknesses professionally.
#2 Look for Ways to Take on "Stretch" Work
The secret to getting more responsibilities - and eventually positioning yourself for a promotion?
You have to nail everything in your job description and then pick up a few tasks that go beyond it.
#3 Stop Going to Pointless Networking Events
Only check out networking opportunities where you’re likely to find people who currently work (or directly work with someone) in a job you want or people who have a unique point of view on an industry you’re trying to advance in.
#4 Invite Four People to Coffee Every Year
Have a "just want to know more about what you do" chat with somebody you admire in your field.
Reaching out to someone new roughly once a quarter should be all that it takes.
#5 Get In On What the Higher-Ups Are Saying
Early on in your career, it’s easy to feel insulated from the discussions going on at the top.
In your next one-on-one ask your boss:
“Since my day-to-day doesn’t really touch on this, how’s the company doing in general? Anything on the broader business front that I should know about?”
#6 Realize All the Informal Mentors You Already Have
Anyone who’s ever written a job recommendation for you, championed or praised your work (social media shoutouts count), or even just given you one-off advice that you’ve really value - for all practical purposes, they’re your mentors.