“Great (people) are not born great, they grow great.” And they find great mentors, don’t they?

Mentors.

I realize that I have been absolutely blessed to have so many wonderful mentors in my professional life — various people who were slightly wiser and more experienced (and sometimes VERY much wiser and more experienced), not always older than me in years but certainly older than me in knowledge and skill. In every field I’ve worked — hospitality, academia, and non-profits — I was lucky to find great teachers in my friends, and great friends in my teachers. These relationships happened naturally. Effortlessly. Wondrously.

“Godfather. Will you look at my LinkedIn page for me?”

So it is interesting that I find myself in the fourth month of this new career journey and I am still relatively mentor-free. My boss is a wonderful teacher and I would never trade him for the world, but it seems I would have networked the heck out of this new field by now and found other additional great coaches. To actively and consciously seek out a new mentor or two … where do I even start?

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Relationships are vital for the relationship managers, too

I had the great pleasure of having coffee/lunch with a friend today, someone who I have not seen since last fall when the campaign we worked on together came to a triumphant close. Since that was my first major campaign (a very intense 10-month $1.25m with no pre-existing donor base to speak of), spider web I considered B one of my teachers/mentors. It was wonderful catching up with her, hearing about her professional experiences in the last 12 months, sharing my incredible experiences in the last 12 months, discussing the latest trends in our field, and who has moved to where and when (you know, the usual stuff development people talk about when they get together).

We also talked about the importance of networks, mentoring relationships, and community. It dawned on me that I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of building and maintaining relationships between organizations and constituents, but I haven’t written much about the importance of building and maintaining relationships within the professional community.

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