The best mentors aren't always who you think they'd be. Get Emilie's three-step strategy for identifying mentors who can make an impact in your career.
- If I had to guess who in my network would have served as the best mentors of my entire career, I never would have guessed correctly. Some of my closest mentors at first glance have little in common with me, but they've served as truly helpful sounding boards as I've navigated my own career transitions. One of my mentors runs a small campaign consulting firm. Another is the founder of two tech companies and a restaurant. And a third is a think tank scholar and lifelong academic. It's hard to guess who's going to be your best mentor. So instead, follow this three-step strategy. First, start with what you want to learn. One of my professional goals this year is sales, to really focus on my selling strategies without feeling salesy. Now in the past, I was looking to learn more about WordPress website management and before that, accounting. Before you go looking for mentors, know what it is that you'd like to learn from them. Second, figure out where the folks who know that might be and show up. At a recent conference where I was speaking, I had a chance to connect with the organization's new sales director. I reached out to follow up with her and ended up establishing a great new relationship. I also made a point to join a local network of professional women in my own city, Denver, and ended up serving on the board so I could attend all the events and meet as many professional women near me as I could. Finding meetup groups online and attending community and industry events is a great way to meet folks who might have the expertise you're looking for. Now if that's not your style, you can do the same thing by listening to podcasts, watching courses right here on LinkedIn Learning, and reaching out to the folks that you see featured on those platforms who have the experience you're looking for. Go to where your people are and see who else is there. Third, reach out to the folks who you have a career crush on. The goal is to identify folks whose careers you admire and want to emulate, or who have expertise similar to the skills you're looking to cultivate. That's why mentorship is so personal. Someone who's a great mentor to your friend or colleague might not be the best mentor for you, because we all define success differently. Who you admire professionally is a reflection of your values, so follow your instincts and listen to your heart when you find yourself crushing on someone else's career.