Have a secret Mentor’s List. Grow it. Contact them once every six months.

Have a secret Mentor’s List. Grow it. Contact them once every six months.

One of the things that I try to inspire my coaching clients with, is to make and keep an active list of the 10 professionals they admire the most and that admire them back (hopefully). Let’s call them your “mentors”. But this is a secret between you and me. Please don’t tell them they are your mentors, or they’ll run away from you! No one wants more responsibility than they already have. These people could be teachers you’ve had, co-workers, former bosses, classmates, neighbors, relatives or even the building doorman. As long as you truly admire them and they truly admire you back, for who you are, for the way you have treated them or for the work you did together. And of course, most importantly, as long as they have good insights and/or a good network.

I like to also keep a list of at least 10 companies that I want to work with ready, at all times, especially before I sit with my mentors. When I say “work with” it’s because you might not be interested in working “for” these companies. Maybe you are, that depends on what your plans are. Maybe you are looking for a new job, so yes, you’d be interested in working “for” them. But maybe, like me, you’ve decided to be self-employed and manage your own projects and time for a while, so you probably like to work “with” different companies and projects that you choose. Or maybe you are the Manager of a company that you want to stay with, but you are constantly looking at companies to offer partnerships or sell your services to, to be more productive and make your bosses happy.

After your LinkedIn in updated and you have a clear view of what you want from or will offer to these companies you will look for, or the first possible route you will “test” for your career transition, you can invite these mentors of yours for coffee. If that’s not possible or if they are too busy, find their email or WhatsApp. Eye contact and even the way you look or smell this day could make a difference. But if the email or Whatsapp is all you have to reach them, that’s fine. Reconnecting with those you admire at least once every six months is a great source of good surprises.

If the online meeting is set (face to face was not possible for any reason), avoid video to make the person more relaxed and comfortable. You want them to concentrate on what you are telling them, not on how they look in the video. Your voice and your energy then become your biggest asset so you want to sound firm and decisive, to show them you know what you want. No one wants to help someone who is confused.

You will basically let them know that you decided to act on a new project or on a career transition. Yes, you already decided, don’t be afraid. You can always decide something different later, but you must show confidence and test the waters for each of your options deep enough before giving up and moving on. And your mentors need to see you are not confused. Tell them that you’d like to share your thoughts to get their honest opinion. You can share what your “perfect business future” looks like and what seems to be the “knot” that is holding you back. Show them your updated Linkedin with your new headline, summary, cover page and ask them if they would take 5 minutes to send you a written recommendation, 3 to 5 lines of how it was to work (or teach..) you in the past.

Then show them the list of business partners (people or companies) you have selected to work “with”(or “for”) in the future and ask them if they know anyone in those companies or similar companies, or if they have any suggestions for you. Let them know you admire and respect them more than anything and it’s important for you to hear what they have to say before going out to execute your plan.

These people will then become your biggest representatives. If you have created a good reputation and haven’t screwed up in the past, of course. Who nowadays doesn’t like to get a phone call of appreciation from someone they know and hear that they are in that person’s most admired professional list? Wherever these people go, they might think of you and how they can help your project. And sooner or later they might surprise you and bring you something back, trust me. If not immediate recommendations or insights, at least they will help with word of mouth.

Make sure you keep this list active and growing. This means that you should always be alert, open, and be looking for ways to surround yourself with people you admire, one way or another. This is what will keep you inspired and wanting to always be a better version of yourself.

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