Personal Growth & Development

How a Mentor and Good Research Can Help Position You More Powerfully

If you are new to the world of insurance and risk management, you may feel that you lack sufficient experience to be credible with clients and prospects.  Rather than hiding behind these feelings, you can proactively find a mentor and use your research expertise to position yourself more powerfully.

Find a mentor

A mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you who serves as a trusted confidant over an extended period of time.  Why do they do this?  First and foremost, as a way of giving back.  They do it because they care about and respect you.  They may do it to develop their skills as a teacher, manager, strategist, or coach.  And a true mentoring relationship also works in both directions – the mentor learns about new ideas from you, just as you learn timeless wisdom from them. 

The mentor’s role is to provide an appropriate degree of challenge and support – emotional, technical, and tactical – so that you can build competence and confidence.  The mentor is an information source supporting you with decision-making, problem-solving, and ongoing encouragement.  His or her non-judgmental approach is most critical as your development hinges upon self-discovery.

How do you go about finding a mentor?

Know Yourself:  Consciously think about where you are in your career, and where you would like to be.  Assess what type of personality you have, and which personality types complement your style.  Consider your strengths and weaknesses and define how a mentor might best guide you.

Keep an open mind as to who this person might be:  A mentor is someone who will help you grow in areas that are most important to you.  This person is not necessarily your best friend, supervisor, or anyone with a high-ranking title, or even someone in the same business.  It is far more important for you to look for someone who exemplifies the traits and skills that you want to adopt. 

Identify where you may find a suitable mentor:  Good sources of mentors include your management team, industry association, online communities, and professors.  You may also wish to consider people in your non-workplace communities such as retirees, local business leaders, and people associated with your hobbies. 

Know what you want to achieve from the relationship:  This is essential.  A clear understanding of your purpose and the desired result will ensure that you find a suitable mentor.  Without knowing what you wish to achieve, you will waste your time and that of the mentor.  In the best of all worlds, it is not just you who will benefit from the relationship.  The mentor will also see the opportunity for personal growth.

Think about people who have been mentors in the past:  Whether purposeful or not, you have had prior mentors in the past.  Think about people who have mentored you and the qualities that you appreciated most about them.  Use these traits as barometers in determining the traits you desire in your new mentor. 

Flaunt your research capabilities

One of the best ways to build credibility and trust is to develop unique knowledge that makes you a go-to resource for your clients, prospects, and co-workers.  You gain respect and gratitude through researching issues with the goal of delivering data, insight, and trends.

If you are a recent graduate, there is no question that you possess a set of freshly honed research skills that you can put to immediate use in a professional context.  That being said, attempt to determine what specific types of knowledge your customers and associates crave.  Then, build your area of expertise around them.  And when you have downtime, read trade journals, relevant industry publications, and watch YouTube videos from industry thought leaders. When you make yourself a resource for solving problems, you build credibility and are seen as a source of information.

You have resources all around you to solve the inexperience, credibility, and trust paradox.  These resources will give you a competitive advantage in your quest to become a trusted advisor.

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