As a new manager, you're probably struggling with making the right decisions. You might wonder if the path you're following is correct or if you've made some wrong turns. You'd like to find a guide, but aren't sure where to look. In today's fast-paced environment, no one has time to even say hello, let alone offer feedback on your progress. Finding a mentor can be difficult.
Fortunately, technology offers plenty of opportunities to connect with leaders. With some strategic planning and a little detective work, you can find a virtual mentor to help influence your career journey.
Determine Your Goal
Before you go on a trip, you have to know your destination. Take some time to think about what you really want in life. Where do you picture yourself in 20 years? 30 years? 40 years? Do you want to work in the same industry? Would you like to own your own business? Are you aiming for the C-Suite?
Determine your end goal and then map out a general career trajectory. What steps do you have to take to get where you want to go? If you don't have any idea, do a little research. Find people who are already in these positions and review their LinkedIn page or portfolio. While no one climbs the corporate ladder the same way, you should start to discover some patterns.
Don't use general terms like "Own a Company." Be specific with something more like, "Be CEO of an Event Planning Franchise with 40 locations across America." You won't be able to move forward until you have a crystal-clear vision of what success means to you.
Understand the Nature of Virtual Mentorship
While there's nothing better than face-to-face mentors, virtual mentors can provide tremendous value. Virtual mentors can provide insight even if they're not available. Through resources like social media, podcasts, courses and online communities, mentors can share knowledge with you at whatever pace you decide.
Keep in mind that mentorship is not simply getting free advice from a successful person. Mentorship requires you to actively apply the lessons you've learned and develop an active feedback loop. You must evaluate your own progress and determine what adjustments need to be made.
Without a mentor, you probably don't have clear direction or much accountability. However, with an actual face and a name to refer to, you have a resource to rely on in times of doubt. No one will have all of the answers you're looking for, though. Virtual mentors will simply provide a source for inspiration and influence. It's up to you to apply what you've learned.
Where to Start Looking
Once you have a clear definition of your goal, start searching online for leaders and/or online communities that provide support for your desired position or trade. If you want to be the CEO of an Event Planning Franchise, search through LinkedIn for "Event Planning CEO." Google "Forums for Event Planners."
Virtual Mentor, Michael Hyatt, recommends searching through the following to find leaders and influencers.
If you aren't able to find someone who has achieved your end-goal, find someone who has similar experience. Check out CEOs of other successful franchises in the entertainment or travel or industries. Search for entrepreneurs who have managed multiple businesses. The exact resume of accomplishments don't necessarily matter. Just find someone who inspires you and motivates you to continue to strive for excellence.
You can also join networking groups and organizations that focus on career development. While one individual might not be optimal, the collective community can provide a spring board for discussion and discovery. Be open to accepting new perspectives from any and all sources.
How to Choose the Best Virtual Mentor
Once you've found some prospects for mentors and collaborative communities, start diving deep into what benefits they actually offer. Does your mentor provide virtual resources? Is your mentor committed to helping others? If you're mentor doesn't frequently post content on their website or social media, then they won't be much help when it comes to accountability. You need to find someone who will consistently remind you to focus on your goals.
You shouldn't send a message to your choice with "Will You Be My Mentor?". You should make a conscious decision to follow the person on social media, subscribe to their blogs and videos or join their community. Establish time intervals that you'll devote to consulting your mentor's resources. For instance, schedule an hour out of each week that is designated to career development. Use that time to sort through your mentor's resources and reflect on how you can apply them to your own situation.
Following a virtual mentor requires discipline and constant, objective self-evaulation. If you're able to commit the time, the benefits of mentorship can have a significant impact on your life both personally and professionally. Next week, we'll explore the ins and outs of How To Stay Actively Connected with Virtual Mentors.
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