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Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Market Mentor Courtesy of Carolyn Rodz
Commentary

6 key benefits of having a mentor

Feb 18, 2015

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Market Mentor.

Millennials are among the most confident employees in the workforce, armed with the knowledge that age is no longer a prerequisite to success thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Holmes and the like. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to be learned from those who have worked before them.

Seeking out advice from the people who hold the very positions that millennials one day hope to attain, or even supersede, can be extremely beneficial. When I look back at my own career and the people who helped guide my success, I can’t help but wonder what could have been if I had invested more in those relationships. So, here are my words of advice - the things I wish I knew years before I figured them out on my own:

Have a vision. It’s important to know what you want to accomplish in order to find the right people to guide you there - and I don’t mean just aspiring to be CEO of a company one day. Instead ask yourself this: What do I stand for? What impact do I want to have on the world? Know your greater goal.

Pack your social calendar. Giving 110% to your day job is extremely important in terms of building your credibility, but statistically speaking you likely won’t be there in five years, so place equal effort on building a network that will help you grow as a professional. Take advantage of every lunch and coffee break by inviting someone you respect to join you. Build genuine and authentic relationships with these people.

Keep in touch. When you meet someone that you truly connect with, continue to foster that relationship. Follow up promptly, share information of interest, and ask them for advice.

Listen. I’m constantly speaking with recent graduates and young professionals during the early stages of their careers. The ones that I’ve had the most respect for, and have gone out of my way to help, are the ones who listen. They not only ask interesting questions, but they often act on the advice I give. I’m not saying you have to do everything you are told, but consider the words people share. If they make sense, act on them. Even more importantly, if you do take someone's advice (and it works in your favor), thank them. Gratitude will take you far.

Make it official. In order for a mentor relationship to grow and evolve, it must be formalized at some point. Once you’ve built a foundation with a potential mentor, ask them if they’d be open to officially mentor you. Be transparent with your expectations and establish clear parameters such as frequency and method of communications, topics of discussion, and objectives.

Reciprocate. Often millennials feels that they have nothing to offer in a mentor/mentee relationship, but the reality is millennials have more to offer than they think. Consider your strengths, like social media or trend spotting. Be confident when sharing your perspective and help your mentor think differently.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce?

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The one word that will boost your career by Jennifer Steinmann, Chief Talent Officer of Deloitte.

6 ways to determine if you’re in the right career by Debby Hopkins, CEO at Citi Ventures.

There’s no such thing as a linear career path by Trish Lukasik, Senior Vice President of Sales at PepsiCo.

Want to succeed in your career? Get uncomfortable by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

Listen to your gut — it could make you CEO one day by Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water.

Why millennials have the power to change the workplace — for good by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.

Why passion may not be enough to build a successful career by Sarah Leary, co-founder and vice president of marketing and operations at Nextdoor.

How to build a career, not just a job by Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Best lesson from your first job: discovering your weaknesses by Ann Marie Petach, Senior Managing Director of Solutions Group at BlackRock.

3 ways to get noticed at work by Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group.

Can millennials revolutionize business? by Erica Dhawan, co-author of “Get Big Things Done” and CEO of Cotential.

Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez: My best career advice for millennials by Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of USA.

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