Should You Ask For a Mentorship?

Photo cred: Reto Fetz

There are two ways to start a mentorship.

You can let it grow naturally, or you can ask for it.

Personally, I let my mentorships grow naturally.  I view a mentorship as a mixture of a professional relationship and a “friendship”.  Therefore, while you can specifically seek out a professional to be your mentor and build a relationship with them, you can’t really ask for a friendship.

I know others have found success in asking a professional to be their mentor formally.  They find someone who they look up to, who they think would serve as a good mentor, and they just ask them.

What do you think?  Should you ask a professional to be your mentor or should you let your mentorships grow naturally?

I’m Not Here to Be Your Friend

The other day I read a great post by Carlos Miceli titled “The Media Attention Whores“. The post brought up the issue of media professionals that put more value in talking about what they’re doing, than actually doing it.

The post was spot on and the phenomenal (and heated) discussion in the comments provided even more insight.  It got me thinking about a common misconception that has been brewing.

I think perhaps we’re forgetting why we’re all here..so let me tell you why I’m here, why I blog, why I tweet, and why I engage in this community.

I am a business person first.

My activities and interactions in this “social media community” have the primary goal to succeed as a professional. If my time spent here doesn’t help me to perform my job better, and to benefit my career, then I am wasting my time.

Does that mean I can’t make friends during the process? Of course not.  I have made amazing friendships along the way. I consider people like Lauren Fernandez, Arik Hanson, Keith Burtis, Gloria Bell and Stuart Foster to be some of my closest and most trusted friends.  I didn’t engage with them to become friends though.  I engaged with them to benefit my career, and the friendship resulted from the process.

Don’t forget why others are here.  YES, most people are participating in this community for the sake of “conversation and networking”.  But conversation and networking aren’t a result, they’re tactics.  The purpose of building these relationships is to drive more traffic, build more opportunities etc…we’re building relationships for business purposes.

Maybe I’m the one being naive.  Maybe I’m selfish, and I should stop being so “self-promotional”.  If I don’t promote my work to the network that I’ve built, however, then why am I here?

Remember…a community manager is still a manager.