My Mentoring Emphasis-Don’t Do What I Told You to Do

By: Max Dubroff

If you’re working with a mentor for the first time, you might be unsure about how to evaluate and apply all the advice that you receive. What I want to tell you here is that it is all up to you.

When I mentor someone, I say up front, “This is not about me. You should ignore anything I say or recommend that doesn’t fit your personality or focus. You should not worry about hurting my feelings.” Here are a few ways to figure out how you can use the advice that a mentor gives you.

First, don’t just do what I tell you to do. You should approach getting advice with the following six steps:

  1. Ask – know your focus and communicate your needs. Don’t expect to get good advice without having some idea of the goals you want to achieve.
  2. Listen – actively ask questions to understand the details and intent of any advice given.
  3. Consider – think of the desired and unintended consequences of actions if you applied a mentor’s advice to your situation.
  4. Choose – focus on what is right for you.
  5. Commit – make a plan and include how you will know if you are on-track.
  6. Do – implement your plans.

The second thing to know is that you shouldn’t just take your mentor’s advice and call it a day. The ideas and recommendations I offer as a mentor should be seen as seeds that a mentee will nurture and grow. That means that any advice you receive isn’t meant to be taken at face value. Conversations with your mentor are a starting point for further evaluation. Apply what will work for you or modify recommendations to fit your vision.

Finally, as much as I can help as a mentor, I cannot do it all. I may be an expert in a narrow field, and I don’t know everything. Get many perspectives by having more than one mentor. This will broaden your thinking and expand the scope of possibilities that suit your situation.

In my time supporting veterans through Veterati, my favorite mentoring relationship is a peer-mentoring relationship with a very intelligent and insightful veteran. Beyond the fact that the learning is mutual and I benefit from his perspectives, he embodies all three aspects of this essay. He applies critical thinking, understanding that his approach must be genuine and aligned with his own style. He demonstrates initiative and drive, coming up with new ideas and actively tests them. And he has reached out to different mentors so he can learn from various perspectives and select what he will implement.

Ultimately, you need to be committed to your plan. You need to own the reason you are implementing change, not simply mimic what worked for someone else. Take each bit of advice to inform your decisions to truly forge your own path.

I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn — it’s part of my job. While there, I see many veterans and military spouses using LinkedIn very effectively to brand themselves and position themselves as the next key employee at their target company. But I also see those who use it very, very poorly, hindering their chances to make a good impression with potential employers. So in this article, I wanted to talk about how to use LinkedIn the right way and avoid making some common mistakes.

 

LinkedIn is NOT Facebook! Do not treat it as such! This is NOT where you and your friends hang out to chat about politics, how ineffective the VA is, or what guns you want to buy! This week I have seen posts of suicide hotlines (good intentioned, but belong elsewhere, like Facebook), opinions about The Donald, and profile pictures that show an individual taking a selfie in a bathroom mirror! PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS! Imagine you are a hiring recruiter from a Fortune 500 company. You want to hire someone who understands how to represent themselves in a business environment. They will avoid even considering someone who cannot do this on a social network for professionals.

 

This brings me to my next point. Use LinkedIn as it was designed to be used – as a PROFESSIONAL social media tool. Remember, everyone who reads your profile likely fits into one of the following categories: your potential recruiter, your potential boss, your potential HR director, your potential colleague, or your potential direct report. Everything you post will inform the impression they have of you.

 

The standard rules of the workplace should apply here:

  1. No politics, religion, or sexually/racially charged comments.
  2. Only say things you would want your boss to hear you say.
  3. Only say things you would want your colleagues to hear you saying about them.
  4. Only say things you would say to the recruiter or HR Director’s face while interviewing for a job.
  5. Don’t get too personal – this is not the place to show pics of your family vacation unless it directly relates to a professional experience or lesson learned.

 

Bottom Line: All LinkedIn content should bolster your professional image.

 

Before every post ask yourself:

 

  1. What does this tell others about me?
  2. How will it help me land my perfect job?
  3. How could my posts be misinterpreted?
  4. What will future clients think when they see this?
  5. How can I ensure I put my best foot forward with this post?

 

Carefully censoring yourself in a professional environment is not being phony. It is being smart. In the military, you are taught to follow long-standing traditions, manners of dress, and professional courtesies. While perhaps not as strict, the private sector is no different. Look at the profiles of peers and leaders in your industry to get an idea of what is acceptable.

 

Do yourself a favor as you venture into social media to tell the story behind your personal brand — know the difference between the platforms and don’t use LinkedIn like Facebook.

What is Veterati?

Veterati is a digital platform for veterans & military spouses to access mentorship-on-demand from successful professionals across the nation. Our mission is to create mentorship conversations between 1.5 million transitioning veterans and 100 million Americans currently employed across America. The Global Head of Military Programs of the #1 veteran employer in the United States calls the proprietary mentorship-on-demand software we’ve developed for veterans “The Uber of mentorship, a game-changer.”

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