Spoiler alert – the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. I know what you’re thinking — you’ve been in the game for a minute. This isn’t your first rodeo, by a long shot. Maybe the idea of connecting with someone at this point in your career feels awkward. Or unnecessary. However, I would assert that you could benefit from (i.e. need) support more than ever after a decade plus up in these workplace streets.
If you’re thinking about pivoting into a new domain or reinventing your professional self entirely, a mentor can make a huge difference in how you curate and consider your options.
Perhaps you’re all on-board and a mentor would be great if only you knew where to find one. I got you. Here are 3 sources that can change everything:
#1: Explore your industry’s professional organizations. If you aren’t affiliated with any groups, what are you even doing with your life (smile)? Community in your work domain can be a powerful ally when you want affirmation and opportunities to expand your horizons.
#2: Connect with colleagues inside your company and out. Meet over coffee to learn more about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Mentoring relationships don’t have to be super formal and stodgy, it’s really about creating a safe space to gain information and share your ideas. Feel odd about setting up a coffee date at work? Use common connections (e.g. corporate affinity groups, sorority, alumni, kids activities, etc.) as a springboard for conversation.
#3: Reach out to people who have similar goals. Find a meetup, luncheon, conference or other event that will attract folks with shared interests. Surround yourself with people who are gaining traction and experiencing the success you want to create; you’ll gain insight by putting yourself out there. Remember to give where you can so you don’t get stuck in take mode (and yes, you have plenty to give based on your knowledge and life experience even if you’re doing new things).
Finally, I want to encourage you to rethink what the term mentor even means if your ego has you all twisted up (as it often does), thinking that you really should know everything that you need to know given your experience and years of service. I don’t believe that it’s ever too late to learn something new, challenge yourself in a different way or engage with someone who can up level your perspective or performance.
Your best supporters may be younger, not necessarily older. Or have zero in common with you in terms of shared demographics like race or gender. And that’s ok. Ultimately, mentors don’t fall out of the sky like frozen iguanas (too soon, Florida?).
You’ve got to put in the work to actively create a network of people who will share and engage with you. Think about what you can do differently and do it. I’m confident that you’re already mentoring others, be sure to get what you need too. No excuses.