“The Three Wise Men” artwork by Csoro.
This article is apart of the series “Simply Master These 4 Areas To Get Promoted”
Getting promoted isn’t a solo-mission. No hero went it completely alone to become successful. Why should you? Everyone gets by with a little help from friends which is why you should invite others to join in your quest for promotion. Like all good adventures, the Hero has a Mentor. Who is yours? If you don’t have one, let’s examine how you can change that right now.
What is a Mentor?
Luke had Obi-Wan, Frodo had Gandalf, Harry had Dumbledore. You need one too. (And no, they don’t have to be old, white, and bearded.) This person will be a source of guidance and wisdom for your journey. A Mentor could be anyone from which you have something to learn and who is willing to share. This could be a leader in your industry of which you establish a direct relationship with, a successful and relevant family member or friend, or simply a colleague within your company of a higher position. The key is that a professional relationship is established from which you can leverage advice and insight.
Why Do I Need a Mentor?
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. You need a mentor for two main reasons, 1) The Lessons, and 2) The Referral.
- Lessons – Yes this means learning. Your mentor will impart you with knowledge and wisdom that you previously didn’t have access to. This means already having a mentor gives you a key advantage when seeking a promotion.
- Referral – Your mentor is an influencer. The fact that you even chose him/her means you believe they can have a positive impact on you. Hence, influence. If you feel this way, others do to. When you spend quality time with them, you will have revealed your drive, ambition, aptitude, character, and commitment consistently. This is powerful because they too will want you to succeed! When it comes time for HR to consider promotions the referral from an influencer is golden.
- This goes beyond the internal promotion, as well. Your mentor may also be the reason you get an interview at your next company!
How Do I Get One?
Ok so you’ve identified your Kenobi, now what? Engage them. Perhaps when passing by in the hallway, by sending a well crafted email, or even connecting outside of work (external event/LinkedIn/etc). You’ll want to do the following:
- Let them know you’re interested in a particular aspect of what they do.
- Are they a great speaker? Do they frequently provide interesting data? Are their PowerPoint skills enviable? Do they have the same resume credits you want someday?
- Share your appreciation and intrigue.
- Be specific about it. Hone in on what it is that impresses you and why.
- Be genuine. This is when your passion should naturally shine through.
- Inform them you are looking to advance your own skills around this area and that you feel you could learn a lot from their experience.
- Tell them HOW you’d like to learn from their experience. This part is key because unlike the reluctant heroes (Luke, Frodo, and Harry) you are ready for the adventure! Here are a few examples of how you might deliver the ‘ask’:
- Hi, I was hoping I could take you out to lunch/coffee once/twice a month to share with you my thoughts on ‘x’. Your feedback would be invaluable.
- I’d like spend a day shadowing your ‘x’ activity to gain firsthand insight of your process. Would that be possible?
- Do you have any upcoming projects in which you would benefit from delegating ‘x’ task? I’m eager to learn the details of ‘x’.
- I’m pitching/presenting to a client soon and would like to run my presentation by you beforehand. Can we schedule 30 mins this Wednesday?
- My current goals are ‘x’ and ‘y’ and I know you’ve achieved similar goals before in your career. I’d love for you to review my strategy and offer any feedback you have.
- Share your ultimate goal. Specifically your promotional aspirations. “I want to be <Insert Title>.” Typically, your mentor won’t be a decision maker but they will be an influencer. And you want to ensure you’re getting the right influence. Knowing where you’re headed and why gives your mentor perspective, helping them tailor their responses, lessons, and advice.
I’m a Mentee! Now what?
Great. You’ve now got a Mentor and are learning great things while gaining confidence in your abilities. But remember, this is a two way relationship. Your dynamic should be mutually beneficial. Even as a mentee, there are ways you can provide value to your mentor and doing so will establish you as an outstanding promotable asset! It make be hard to imagine at first, especially if you are early in your career, but it is entirely possible. The idea is to support your mentor’s own success. The following ideas are ways you can make that happen.
- Tout their accomplishments. Did your mentor recently score a big deal or make a significant strategic move for the company? Share their success with others and comment on the potential impact.
- Nominate/coordinate your mentor to be interviewed by a relevant publication or blog. If you can’t make an external connection, do it yourself! Send over a few questions and inform them that you’ll be submitting the interview to the company newsletter.
- Play matchmaker. Use your own network to introduce them to others. Perhaps they are mentors too or simply share similar goals.
- Incorporate them in your own success. Not only do you want to share your wins with your mentor, you should also credit them. What specific piece of advice did you gain from them that led to your accomplishment? Tell the world whenever its mentioned.
Every step of the mentoring process increases your value and improves your experience. Overtime the culmination of both will swell into a common-sense conclusion that you, above all else, should be promoted.
But this is just one aspect of career advancement. To learn more ways you can get promoted continue the series here: “Simply Master These 4 Areas To Get Promoted”
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