Regardless of where we are in our life journey, everyone –both personally and professionally– can identify with the vast number of people who are beginning, progressing, or exiting a path in their life. The issue is that most people let the value and opportunity offered in an interaction with such people slip away. Perhaps we should consider the untapped opportunities hidden in these “chance meetings” with people on common paths. Taking the time to meet and understand people is the start of creating a personal mentor network.
The Start of a Mentor Network
Mentor networks are defined by the development of life-long relationships with trusted counselors or teachers. A focus on building a mentor network opens the door to fostering opportunities both to teach and to learn. To be a leader (mentor) or follower (trainee) in a personal network affords lasting enhancements to your life-learning. A good network includes both types of relationships for an individual.
Building a personal mentor network will require an effort in time, commitment, and energy. A mentor network is a self-driven, goal-driven process. In other words, we decide when and with whom to interact. We choose the best people for our life path or situation. That decision process starts with establishing a criteria or vision, and specifically being open to matching with a mentor or mentee.
For example, if we meet someone struggling in a career or life situation, perhaps this is an opportunity to step in and provide assistance, leading to a potential lifelong friendship and life change. Alternatively, should we meet someone we admire or someone who possesses qualities we wish to emulate, we may want to find a way to mimic or incorporate that admired quality or qualities into our own life. This is also accomplished by being open about your goal and intentional in pursuing a relationship with the potential mentor.
Consider networking as a cerebral exercise, taking the time to slow down from the day to day workflow and thinking about a person currently in your life path. This mental exercise can be the initiator for the creation of your own mentor network. Is this particular person your opportunity to become a mentor (teacher) to someone less skilled in a particular area? Or is this person equipped with skills or traits you feel will enhance your future progress?
The Importance of a Mentor Network
The building of a mentor network can be a core principal to life. We personally believe it is foundational to thriving in a career as well. Author Fred Rogers summed up this idea when he said, “As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has—or ever will have—something inside that is unique to all time.”
Mentor networks are a type of intellectual or emotional reserve account we can draw upon during the times we’re feeling less than resourceful. They can also be a bedrock of support to a trainee at capacity or in a time of need. Without a doubt, building a mentor network will enhance your personal and professional skills and offer lasting lessons in your life journey.
By John Cornwall