Career Mentors – How to Find them and Get the Most from this Relationship

The guidance of a woman who’s been there and done that in your chosen career field cannot be understated. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet this accomplished lady yet, seek her out by attending events, activities and conferences in your area of interest. If that doesn’t work, try social networking.
Most accomplished and professional women would gladly impart some career advice to a newbie. Let’s fast forward and assume you’ve found an amazing woman who you are developing a relationship with. You can get the most of this relationship by keeping a few key goals in mind.
1) Goal-oriented meetings
Having at least three objectives for your time with this amazing woman will help you focus. It will also help you to prepare thoughtful questions and assist in guiding the conversation. Whether it’s dinner, a formal meeting in her office or a casual coffee break, keeping your goals foremost in your mind will aid in getting the most out of your meetings.
2) Follow up
Has your mentor mentioned another leader in your career field? Has she said something like, “You should talk to so and so” or “You would get a lot out of that book/journal/article”? Don’t let these precious leads just drop. Follow up on each and every piece of information by jotting down notes, writing emails and making phone calls.
3) Keep it classy
Good manners go a long way. People will often be willing to take a chance on someone inexperienced if they are polite. Be gracious and thankful for her time by sending old-fashioned thank you notes and offering to pay for any meal you may eat with her. Additionally, be kind to her staff and any associates.
4) Make sure she’s aware of your value
Don’t be overbearing, but there’s nothing wrong with casually dropping into the conversation the fact that you spent last summer in Austria studying Economics under a renowned European professor. Or that you have experience building databases. Letting her know you can contribute will only help you in the long run.

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