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Being Herd: Dos and Don’ts of approaching a mentoring relationship

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During the first quarter of the year, many aspiring students, entrepreneurs and business professionals begin to seek the guidance and advice of mentors.

Mentors are professionals, well established in their chosen field, who typically possess knowledge and business connections not easily accessible to others.

Such professionals are often sought after by individuals eager for the opportunity to sit and learn from some of the best, all the while increasing their experience.  

In today’s world, some have taken the mentor/mentee relationship for granted, often relegating it to nothing more than a lunch or dinner meeting with hopes of gaining access to other high powered professionals. 

And while many approach the relationship in a professional manner, some only seek out individuals to enjoy the privileges of knowing a person in power, while others are merely looking for a “hook up” and the fast track to the top of the corporate ladder or industry. 

Those fortunate enough to pick the minds of professionals who have reached the pinnacle of their careers should not enter into the situation lightly, nor take it for granted.

A mentee should realize that while they stand to gain exceptional knowledge, mentor-ship is also a give and take partnership: you are not there just to learn but to teach as well. Professionals who are willing to invest in your future are also looking for a return on their investment. 

Therefore, you should strive to prove yourself a valuable asset to their network.  

Do you seek a mentor to guide you along your career path? Consider the following questions: 

•           Why are you interested in learning from this particular person? 

•           If given the opportunity, how could you be an asset to their business or network? 

•           Upon studying their business model, what innovative suggestions can you offer that would benefit their organization? 

•           Other than building your career, what else do you hope to gain from this experience? 

If you can provide clear, concise answers to these questions, you improve your likelihood of connecting with a mentor who will hone your skills and/or talents.

Do take advantage of the opportunity, but do not take advantage of the person gracious enough to extend to you a helping hand. 

And as the old saying goes, “learn all you can and can all you learn.”

Remember to extend the same courtesy that was extended to you once you have reached the top. 

 About Denise

Denise is the owner of Herd Strategies LLC, an Indianapolis based strategic communications firm. She is a professor and a Harley Davidson enthusiast. 

For more on Herd Strategies, visit herdstrategies.com

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