One of the ideas that I played around with for my professional development kick challenge was to find a mentor. I knew that it would be very hard to seek out a mentor and cultivate a relationship in eight weeks so I decided to fast track it. These things usually take time and happen as a natural progression. Yes, it was slightly creepy of me to reach out to someone with a, "Will you be my mentor?" plea (don't worry I didn't phrase it like that), but I figured every challenge has its pitfalls and successes. If I fail, you readers can learn from my mistake, and if I succeed, what a doozy of a story I'll have for you!
To find out who I reached out to and what happened, read on.
I've been a big fan of Geeks on a Plane and follow many of the participants on Twitter. I love the idea of a gathering of bloggers, Internet geeks, entrepreneurs, and investors banding together to travel to another locale to exchange information with their foreign counterparts. This year's organizer is Christine Lu and I decided it would be fitting to approach her as I've really enjoyed her tweets and have even seen tweets from her towards her "mentees." I tweeted her and asked if she would like to get involved with a project. We exchanged emails and set up a phone call soon after.
We chatted for an hour about her philosophy on mentoring, how she happened upon it and how she found her own mentors.
"First and foremost, the person you're seeking as a mentor [should be] aligned with where you want to end up, and that would give it a lot more of a connection. . . but it doesn't mean that you have to be in the same field," Christine said.
Sometimes mentorship can emerge from your online networks, she said. Perhaps a Twitter conversation will spark from your avid following of a really cool blogger in your field, and that can maybe even lead to some sort of relationship. Speaking of starting friendships, Christine and I also talked about the importance of relationship building, something that I've discovered myself a few years ago. More often than not, people just look at what's on business cards and make a snap decision on whether to pursue further contact. However, that quick judgment is unwise because you really never know what can come out from that unlikely friendship. At the time of their meeting years ago, Christine never thought she would be pairing up with her current business partner.
It's been a few days since our talk, and although I know I haven't gained Christine as a mentor, our call gave me a taste of what it felt like. I also came to a realization that the reason why I decided to do this interview was because I'm at a point of my life in which I'm seeking to hear from people who've gone through the same experiences. Professional development is all about learning, and what better way to learn than to hear from those who've been there and done that?