While individuals and institutions explore the most impactful mentoring methods, focus is shifting from having one mentor to having multiple mentors. Though having a “board of advisors” may not embody traditional mentoring relationships, having a diverse array of perspectives and insight cans be helpful, if not essential, as someone works to further their career.
However, as mentees begin expanding their circle to be more inclusive of different mentoring relationships, there are also certain qualities they should consider when building an advisory board.
A Case for Multiple Mentors
As someone progresses throughout life, their needs for a mentor change, and a student in their junior year of college is going to be looking for different qualities in a mentor than someone mid-level in their career.
Moreover, as a mentee deals with varied day-to-day obstacles, resourcing the distinct strengths of multiple mentors makes it easier to receive the appropriate advice.
Having several mentors brings a range of different skills you’d be hard-pressed to find in one person. One mentor may be valuable when it comes to editing a resume and preparing for an interview, but adding more mentors to an advisory board provides the opportunity to expand skills in other areas, such as networking or negotiating tactics.
Additionally, having multiple mentors from different backgrounds, industries and companies gives a broader discipline of ideas and perspectives to make the best decisions for every area of life. For example, sometimes the best person to speak to will encourage you to go out on a limb and follow your dreams. Other times you need an honest and realistic resource that will tell you something you don’t want to hear.
Below are multiple mentors we believe are necessary to include in any personal advisory board.
Building Your Board
- The Mentor Next Door — While online mentoring is a great option to conveniently connect with members of your personal advisory board, having at least one mentor who’s close enough to catch up with for coffee a few times a month offers an unmatched opportunity to create a more meaningful relationship and enhance a personal connection.
- The Mentor You Know — Reaching out to someone you know ensures that there’s a basis of commonality. For students, connecting with an alumni from their college creates an important common ground — starting from the same place in education makes it easier to relate to an alum’s career pathway. Additionally, employees may want to seek out a more senior colleague from work to help navigate specific aspects of the company such as culture or office politics that an outsider couldn’t give advice on.
- The Peer Mentor — Peer mentoring tends to be more casual, which often makes the relationship easier to access. Without the separation of age or authority, a peer mentor can be easier to talk to when concerned about small questions or less specific conversations. Even though they may not be much further along in their career, a peer mentor often lends honest advice or a different way of looking at a current situation, and can contribute knowledge of other skills or industries.
- The Expert — This is the mentor with all the endorsements on LinkedIn who you seek out to be a coach on a subject or help you expand a certain skill. This person is a master in hard and soft skills and can point you towards the best resources and strategies to impact career growth. Particularly, connecting with an expert in your industry is the best way to stay updated on trends and developments in your field of interest.
- The Role Model — Seeking a mentor who holds your “dream job” is one of the best ways to plan a pathway to your ultimate career aspirations. This person can help you outline goals and requirements to get to where you want to be in your career, and has the experience working their way up to give you profound advice on how you can do the same.
- The Entrepreneur — A successful entrepreneur must be fairly well-versed in just about every aspect of running a business, and chances are they know a little bit about everything from financing to marketing. Having an entrepreneurial mentor means having a reliable opinion on pretty much any question you can think of — and their inherent drive and work ethic will be a motivator in itself.
- The Relatable Mentor — Matching with a mentor who has similar interests and personalities traits is one way to establish a meaningful connection that will likely lead to a lifelong relationship. Whether outgoing or introverted, logical or emotional, interested in sports or art, the more a mentee relates to a mentor and understands his or her experiences, the more they’ll likely gain from the conversations.
While it’s impossible to list every kind of mentor that will make a difference in someone’s life or career, it’s evident that building an advisory board enhances development opportunities and allows a greater span of advisors to insight diversified encouragement, guidance and information.
In this way, mentees can better strategize mentoring to affect personal and professional development, and ensure a successful and engaging career.