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Mentor, Oh, How I Hate that Word

Mentor

Recently a few people told me that I was their mentor.  Oh, how I hate that word.  Makes me feel old and wise, both of which I am neither.

But this does make me reflect on those that influenced me.  My parents gave me my foundation.  My wife, Barbara, has pushed me to do more than I would have attempted if on my own.  Darryl Finney is someone that I learned a great deal of my  marketing knowledge from and about life.  Judi Uttal is the person who brought me into marketing and taught me how to get things done.  And Kevin Marshall has taught me much about business and how to live your life.  I am lucky to have all of them in my life.

Typically, a mentor is a person who has a significant number of years on you in terms of experience (and also in age).  To me a mentor relationship is about information.  Often the word mentor is never even mentioned.  A mentor knows when to provide advice and when to be silent.  A key quality of a mentor is be genuine.  This is important for managers and leaders as well.  A good mentor is also a good listener.  Too much advice is almost as bad as too little.  We’re all learning together. I get energy and fresh ideas from those that I assist.  Not sure who is learning from who sometimes.  Marketing has changed radically over the last few years with Inbound Marketing and Social Media.  So the mentor is often learning from the mentee.

Do you feel that you need some professional advice?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Figure out what you need help on.  Get specific on the skills you desire.  If you want to be a marketing person, determine what type of marketing person do you want to be and the skills to be a great marketing person in this area.
  2. Figure out who is a great person with that skill set and that is available to assist you.  Do some research. Finding the right person is important.
  3. Invite that selected person for coffee, lunch or happy hour.  Whatever is most convenient for them.  Don’t mention the “M” word to them.  Just tell them you want to pick their brains some.
  4. Be prepared for the conversation.  Come up with a list of questions to ask them.
  5. Stay in touch with this individual.   Send a thank you note after your conversation.  Send them articles that are relevant to their needs.  Try to return the favor if possible.
  6. If the desired relationship doesn’t happen between the two of you, find another person and repeat the cycle.

Remember you have to give to get.  Always have a pay it forward mentality.  Do you have “official” mentors who you asked to guide you through your career? Or do you have “informal” mentors.  Mentor, it is not such a bad word after all.  If called mentor, I am honored.  Leave me your thoughts regarding mentors!

 

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