Ways Your Networks and Mentors Can Help You Right Now
June 30, 2020
Reaching your goals is a collaborative effort; you can’t do it all by yourself. On the journey of achieving your dreams and goals, you’ll need some help along the way. Networking effectively and taking advantage of mentor relationships is vital for the growth and development of your career. Afterall, networking is the most common way to find work; according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yale University, 70% of jobs are found through networking.
Networking is especially vital during times of uncertainty and transition. Career changes, unexpected life events, or, even more relevant to today, widespread community or global outbreaks like COVID-19 can create barriers to your plans. Networking and leaning on your mentor relationships can assist you along the way and help you get back on track during uncertain times. Whatever situation you’re in, keep these simple tips in mind as you expand your network and broaden your professional horizons:
Find a group of mentors
Expanding your network and finding a mentor can be hard. Do you formally ask someone to be your mentor, or should it be a natural connection and development? There's no right or wrong answer. However, a common question is where to start? One of the best places to begin finding a mentor is in groups or clubs that have similar goals or experiences as you do. LinkedIn offers groups on its platform for you to connect and engage with people in the same line of work as you. Some professions have official programs or chapters you can become a member of that hold conferences and meetings to learn from one another. Facebook has virtual support groups to help you with things outside of your career. It's essential to keep in mind that you don't just have to have one mentor; you can have several and learn from all of them.
“Support from a network is one of the most critical aspects of professional success,” says Ritch Wood, CEO of Nu Skin. “You might make it on your own, but your chances of success increase dramatically with a network of support at your back. This is something we try to build within our company, through collaborative workplace experiences for our employees, and a strong community for our brand affiliates when they start partnering with us.”
Be vulnerable with your mentors
“It’s nearly impossible to exist without bias even if it is unconscious. We all carry the varied parts of our life experience. Yet we are not destined to be stuck if we choose otherwise. Life changing, significant growth can occur when we address the more uncomfortable aspects of our biases and trusted mentors can help us accomplish that. Good mentors not only support and encourage, they also help us stretch and expand our capacity. So, it’s important, on many levels, to find a mentor who truly sees you, hears you and makes you feel safe in your vulnerability,” stated Ruth Todd, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Nu Skin.
Be open with your mentor. Tell them about your goals and your life's ambition. Then ask for their opinions and direct feedback on how to move forward. This will open the door for real constructive criticism that's unfiltered and sometimes uncomfortable. Consider the information and work to make the changes necessary to achieve your goals.
The best kind of mentor pushes you. They provide you with new ideas, insights and thoughts. Mentors can help you amplify your vision and see things that you don’t see. They draw from their experiences and mistakes so that you can learn from their mistakes. They should support you in your endeavors and offer their connections and insights. Mentors shouldn’t let you settle but challenge you. You’ll have to work hard and stretch yourself so that you can reach your goals. Take on those challenges and you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
Mentoring is an accountability relationship and an encouraging one. It's essential to chat with your mentor regularly to hold you responsible, provide guidance, and cheer you on.
“A mentor relationship largely boils down to having someone who can be both a coach and a cheerleader. Having a mentor at all stages of your career is critical to success. They can save you from making costly mistakes that can set you back in your career,” says Jeff Bettinger, SVP of Human Resources at Nu Skin. “So, take some time today to thank them for their advice and presence in your life.”
During uncertain times it's important to chat regular with mentors, we are all experiencing something new and it's good to have someone to talk to through it all. Raffaela Rein, founder of WildWildVentures, shares how she has been mentoring recently. “I’ve offered ‘office hours’ through my social channels since the beginning of the year, where anybody can book a free spot to get mentored. Most of the time this happens via video call because people call in from all over the world.” Work with your mentor to find ways to still meet even it’s virtually.
It doesn’t matter where you’re at professionally, networking effectively gives you a better chance by having a supportive team on your side. The new decade promises unlimited opportunities for those with the commitment and vision to pursue them. Use these tips to get started today and begin pushing your career in a more promising direction.