For those of us who make the digital space our vocation, it’s easy to conflate friends with mentors. Mentors are our advocates, people who encourage, support and champion our work.
For many of us, having someone from afar valuing your contributions can be a huge boon to your self-esteem. Especially if you’re just starting out.
I mostly began professional blogging as a way to reach out to others who were doing what I do. I wanted to test my insights against a wider world of smart folks who might have perspectives different than mine. I wanted to be proven wrong, to some degree. What I found was more than just critical minds willing to engage, disagree or participate in sometimes theoretical conversations; but access to people who I could reach out to with questions about job and career issues.
Sometimes, it’s the people who don’t think of themselves as mentors who do the best job at it. As I’ve grown in my own career, I’ve tried to pay forward all of the things I’ve gained from mentors in my own life. When it comes to things like blogging, I’ve actively sought out new people who are sharing insights to discover folks who were once like me.
I think it’s always harder to break out as time goes on, because there ends up being more noise on the scene and we have a more difficult time — especially in social media — of synthesizing the voices as networks become more cluttered.
Nonetheless, few days go by that I don’t think about how remarkable it is to live in a world where borders become less important and enable us to cultivate broad, disparate interactions that can yield direct dividends in our everyday lives.