Some insight for Millennials to consider, and an exploration of Mentorship in the Digital Age.
Whatever your chosen profession, at some point you’ll probably decide to advance your career to the next level within your current company, or make a change into a different role or field entirely. Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. If you really want to maximize the upside of each pivot you take in your career, you simply cannot do so in a vacuum. That’s why mentorship continues to be so important, but not in the way that we normally think of it.
■ Whose career do you admire and how has their path to success unfolded? You can often get the benefits of mentorship simply by being a good online researcher and spectator without ever actually asking someone, “Will you be my mentor?” The world’s most brilliant minds have opened the kimono by establishing themselves on social media, and anyone can spectate.
■ Don’t just focus on one person’s career or story, either. Mentors can be family members, friends, neighbors, old work colleagues, current work colleagues, etc. Seek inspiration from multiple role models practicing in unrelated fields and take note of the behavior trends.
■ Mentors that are wise are not always older. People even younger than you are engaging with social media in surprising ways, so always be open to the possibility of learning something from someone who may be younger than you but still inspires you.
■ Let your role models be a regular influence in your life simply by observing or even joining the conversations that they are already having via social media. Follow them on Twitter and Google+, and seek out answers to your questions and fears in the content that they’ve already published.
■ Does it make sense to identify someone who can provide more direct guidance? While the average Millennial professional probably prefers not to limit themselves to the professional mentors in their specific geographic area, there are local resources for face-to-face mentorship.
■ If you want to broker a one-on-one virtual mentorship, or even just pick someone’s brain, you need to carefully figure out if they would want to undertake such a role. Potential mentors are often very busy with their own life and projects. Chances are good that if you have had no relationship with this person in the past, hitting them up on LinkedIn out of the blue is not going to be appreciated. Some professionals will indicate that they are open to mentorship arrangements on their LinkedIn profiles. Either way, always remember to break the ice first, as discussed in my article on social media networking etiquette.
■ Sometimes mentorship is better in person (especially if you plan to switch jobs but remain at your current company), in which case your company’s HR department may even offer mentorship programs and can match you up internally. Ask about your options.
Regardless of how you land a mentor, don’t forget to show your gratitude when someone takes the time to provide you with practical feedback and support. In the case of mentors who don’t even realize that they are inspiring you, support them by sharing and/or liking their content to encourage them to continue to provide guidance.