How mentors will help you manage your brand

Stop waiting for people to recognize your value and start becoming intentional about building your brand. 

The #1 myth about promotions: They’re 100% merit-based. 

The ugly truth about advancing your career and getting life changing opportunities is that there are politics involved. 

Putting your head down and doing the work is not enough to reach your goals.

I’ve seen incredibly talented managers get passed up for promotions because they thought the key was to simply keep their head down and do the work. This approach is flawed. It leaves too much open to assumption and interpretation. It means you are hoping that someone is paying close enough attention to you to realize what an amazing job you are doing.

So what should you do instead?

You need to develop advocates. You need people who will talk about all of the good work you are doing when you aren’t in the room. 

Relationships matter.

Why you need mentors and advocates

Who are the people who make the hiring decisions in your company? You need to build relationships with them and develop trust. 

This group needs to understand your value and skill set. And they need to trust you.

When opportunities present themselves, you want people in the room who will advocate for you and help the group see why you are the best choice.

A good mentor will also help you understand your strengths and opportunities and what you can start doing to prepare for future roles.

🕶 Your plan should be to find an influential mentor and turn them into an advocate

How do you develop advocates?

The first step is getting out of your comfort zone and start talking to people. You need people to know your name, your goals, and your strengths. 

Mentors WANT motivated mentees because helping you improve in your role and get promoted makes them look good. It’s a leadership data point they will be able to bring into their next interview.

By developing relationships with mentors, whether formal or informal, you are giving them a reason to be invested in your success. 

When you reach out be specific. 

Don’t: Say, “I want to pick your brain.”

Do: Be specific with what you want to accomplish, what is in the way, and why you chose them. (Build on their strengths!) 

Clarify Your Goals

Make your goals public.

It’s much easier for your mentor to help you when they know how to help you.

If your career is an airplane, you are the captain. 

  • Step in the cockpit 
  • and plug in the coordinates to where you are going. 

When your mentor understands where you want to go and what is getting in your way, they will be able to confidently provide guidance and perspective. They will also appreciate seeing you take initiative. 

Have a Bias for Action

You want to be thoughtful about your goals but don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap. There will never be a perfect time or situation to take advantage of an opportunity. If your mentor finds an opportunity for you, try and figure out how to make it work. 

Challenging assignments are an opportunity for you to develop new skills, create new relationships, and strengthen the trust between you and your mentor.

When you decide to say no to an opportunity, because sometimes No will be the right decision, understand that there is no way to know for sure when/if that opportunity will present itself again.

Show your mentor you are someone capable of stepping in and getting shit done.

It’s a big deal. 

Trust = Character + Competence

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ― Ernest Hemingway

To develop trust with your mentor, you need to demonstrate character and competence. Mentors want to help people who are honest and dependable.

Character is all about who we are inside, our moral and ethical values. It shows them you have integrity.

  • Be consistent in your words and actions
  • Accept feedback without being defensive
  • Follow through on commitments and meet deadlines
  • Be truthful about your capabilities, progress, and challenges
  • Respond promptly to communications and be punctual for meetings 

Competence is proving your ability to get the job done. You need to show you are able to perform your current responsibilities well and also able to implement feedback and develop new skills.

  • Speak confidently
  • Ask thoughtful questions 
  • Find solutions to work challenges
  • Seek out new challenges to learn new skills

Trust is the foundation of every relationship, and your relationship with your mentor is no exception.

Final Thoughts

This quarter’s newsletters will be focused on helping you build your brand as a leader. Your brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room. 

Having a healthy brand will help you:

  • Get promoted
  • Attract incredible employees
  • Increase trust in your industry 
  • Expand your influence and impact
  • Attract new partnerships, clients, and business opportunities

When leaders have a strong reputation, people trust them more. They can really motivate their teams and have more chances to move up in their careers. Plus, other talented people want to work with them because they’re seen as great leaders.  What is ONE thing you are doing right now to improve your brand as a leader?

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit JacobEspinoza.com.

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