A mentor can help make a huge difference in your professional career, whether you’re just starting out, looking to change careers, or entering a leadership role for the first time. Everyone can benefit from having one. But the real truth?
It’s hard to find a good mentor.
And not just a good mentor, but the right mentor for you. Some of the top individuals in your industry are probably great at what they do, but being a mentor requires a unique skill set. Not everyone will have this, or want to be a mentor, or even be the right mentor for you as an individual.
The good news is you have a great network of mentors you can tap into right away. You’re probably already doing this without even realizing it. What I am talking about?
I’m talking about Frientors.
Okay, What is a Frientor?
A Frientor is someone in your network – they could be a close friend, a colleague, a family member, or professional acquaintance – who is knowledgeable about a specific topic you need help with.
You probably already have a few people like this who you turn to for support – I know I certainly do! You just might not have framed the relationship with the mentoring box. The great thing about these relationships is that they’re less formal, more reciprocal, and limitless! You can have as many Frientors as you think you need.
Having a strong mentor in your life is great, especially if it offers you a structured plan, but for many people, having a selection of Frientors at their fingertips can be just as valuable. Other benefits include:
– More Personalised Guidance Right When You Need It
A standard mentor may have been mentoring for a while. They may have a few mentees they’re working with and a great selection of resources to utilize. But this may also be quite generic. A frientor will know you on a more personal level. They know a bit about who you are, where you’ve come from, and what your personality is like. So the advice they give will have the very uniqueness of you at it’s heart.
– Less Formal = Less Pressure
When I’ve worked with a senior mentor, I’ve often felt a bit of pressure to keep my shortcomings under wraps, or a bit of pressure to want to impress them. When I tap into my frientor network, this is definitely not the case! A less formal relationship allows you to open up and be honest more, meaning you can get more valuable advice (without worrying about how you’ll be judged!).
– You Get More Current Advice
It’s easy to send a friend a quick message, email or jump on their social media to ask a question – and if your friends are anything like mine – they’ll get back to you quickly with advice from their own personal experience, a book they just read, or a video they just saw. The advice can also be more ‘real’. I love when I see my friends doing awesome things and being able to say ‘That’s amazing! How did you do it?‘ and then getting the fully gritty low down on how they achieved their success.
– Success is a Celebration, Not a Measurement
Because you and your frientor group are all in it together, when success does happen, you celebrate as a group! But more importantly, it doesn’t become the only measurement of your relationship together. You’re all helping each other navigate the challenges of life, as and when they arise. Together.
And Guess What?
You’re likely to be a pretty proactive frientor yourself already!
A more formal mentor is a fantastic resource, and can be a real kick-start to help you overcome some of the barriers you’re facing. But if you’re struggling to find the right person, reframing some of your current network as frientors could be a great way to get the little boosts of wisdom you need – right when you need them.