Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by thevyne2
Build Your Mentoring Network
Being the architect of your career is essential to finding and doing work that showcases your strengths and work that you enjoy. As I’ve weaved my way in and out of jobs and navigated the corporate America terrain (which can get pretty bumpy at times) and through it all there is one asset that has never failed me and consistently helps keep me on the right track. That is, my mentoring network. I’m not talking one person, I’m talking a NETWORK of mentors who perform different functions in my work life, all of whom help me in some way to navigate my career journey and experience success along the way.
The really basic definition of mentoring, which you probably already know, is a developmental relationship between two individuals in which a more experienced person (the mentor) assists a less experienced person (the protégé). A few characteristics that describe a healthy mentoring relationship are: 1) mutually beneficial for both the mentor and protégé, 2) deliberate and intentional, meaning both parties put in the work to sustain it and 3)that it’s a journey, which means it takes time to develop, deepen and discover the benefits.
If you only have one mentor, then it’s time to step it up. With the job market the way that it is and opportunity opening up in a variety of different covert and overt ways, having a network of mentors is an asset that no one should be without. Additionally, you should never build your mentoring network when you need it (e.g. when you’re out of a job) but rather before you need it so you can focus on nurturing and growing the relationship.
If you’re ready to start building your mentoring network here are the four types that I recommend you have:
- The Coach – This is the mentor who is going to be able to give you job related performance feedback. They are usually a leader in your current organization that has visibility into your on-the-job performance, you strengths as well as your developmental opportunities.
- The Confidant – This is the mentor who is going to tell you when you have “spinach in your teeth”. They are likely the person you’ll vent to on a stressful day. This is a person you trust implicitly and who trusts you implicitly. They may be in your organization or may not. Regardless they are the person who knows and understands the concept of unwritten rules and can help you navigate and/or understand them as you do your best not to step on any political land mines.
- The Content Expert – This is the mentor who gives you specific guidance on a particular skill that you are trying to acquire. For example, if you were trying to improve your presentation skills, this person would be someone who is naturally good at presenting and willing to help guide your skill development.
- The “Co-Signer”– This is the mentor who acts as an advocate for you in your current role. Their sole responsibility is to talk you up to the leaders in your organization when you’re not around. And to bring you up when people who don’t know you should know you. They are ideally in a significant leadership role and have the ability to influence your next role.