On being a mentee in the information age.
Most of us connote mentorship with one-on-one session with a senior industry professional. This type of mentorship is brilliant and incredibly valuable, but there are other ways of learning from the best.
I don’t think that to be mentored, you’ve to meet in person. Face time is fantastic, but exchange of emails or tweets can also help you learn.
Embrace social media
Social and digital platforms are the easiest way to connect with people you admire. Forget about annoying PA’s with the multitude of calls just to get a ten-minute coffee with a CEO. Most of the leaders are on Twitter. Say hi using @-reply, show them you’ve a point of view, intrigue them. You might end up getting a piece of advice that will shape your career.
Yes, interactions on Twitter can definitely help you grow. But here’s something you’d not expect to hear from me: your mentor doesn’t even have to know s/he is mentoring you.
Consume content of your favourite thinkers
I’ve many mentors who don’t know about my existence. CEOs, filmmakers, photographers. I’ve never met many of them. But by consuming their work, I learnt a lot. I’ve been reading their books, watching their films, admiring their pictures.
Where to start? Read biographies, follow work of the people you are inspired by. I could also recommend one of my favourite books from last year — IBM’s luminary Jeremy Waite and his ‘Ten Words‘ (now also a podcast!) will give you lessons from the best in the variety of fields. You can also have a listen of a podcast from an author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, or watch a video from the legendary entrepreneur Gary Vee.
Embrace your environment
Last but not least, it’s important to be mindful of the surroundings. Everyone around us — from bosses to colleagues through our friends to our parents — they all have influence on us. Pay closer attention to their actions and advice, and embrace it.
To sum up, mentorship doesn’t always have to be official. In the XXI century, we can interact with people on all levels via social media and learn from them. What’s more, we should also treat books, articles, and podcasts from people we admire as a form of mentorship.
Please note: I’m by no means discouraging from applying for the more formal forms of mentorship. In fact, you should definitely consider doing it. A few organisations such as The Taylor Bennett Foundation, Women in PR, and the Institute of Internal Communication run fantastic programmes. With this piece I only wanted to highlight some other forms you can use for personal and professional growth.
If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!