LinkedIn is testing out a new free service for members that will match them with other professionals who can give them career advice. LinkedIn will help to make matches between mentees and mentors via its online platform.

Mentorship is a significant part of the careers of every successful person that I know. I personally have sought out and found mentors since my early 20s working in Accenture.  I used to think this was normal, but I discovered over the last decade that many talented friends have never found a formal mentor relationship.

I have run the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Mentorship Program in Barcelona for the last 3 years and have learnt a lot as we have got 15 mentor-mentee pairs connected and working together to achieve specific goals.  Personally I have have benefitted from some wonderful mentors throughout my life – in particular Michael (my first long-term manager at Accenture), Brian (the reason I teach at IESE Business School), Harry (helped me take a big decision last year).  I personally mentor 5 people each year and it is hugely valuable for me to reflect on my own life as I listen to the challenges and opportunities of these inspiring individuals.

How will Mentorship work on LinkedIn?

Hari Srinivasan, director of product management at LinkedIn, says, “As people spend less and less time at a company, it’s hard to find people you need to talk to.”  LinkedIn user analysis shows that 89% of senior leaders (on LinkedIn) would be interested in giving advice.

This is how it works: There will be a section on your profile called “dashboard”. This will display the “career advice hub” where you can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee.

The first screen is a basic overview of the function and its value for both those giving and getting advice. From there, you are instructed to provide specifics on who you’d like to talk to with parameters such as region, industry, school, etc.

LinkedIn’s matching algorithm will immediately send recommendations for matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, they can start talking.  Read more about LinkedIn’s plans for mentorship on Fast Company.

Two of the reasons mentorships fail are…

  1. the mentee isn’t able to articulate what they need or
  2. asks too much of a mentor.

Check out my blog post: “How to be a Good Mentor

LinkedIn is working on ways to make the conversation flow more smoothly so both sides get what they need.  LinkedIn say that it’s not meant to be a replacement for long-term mentorship. It’s meant to tackle those “quick question” requests such as whether you are taking the right approach in different scenarios.

Do you have a mentor?  Are you searching for a mentor?  Are you interested in becoming a mentor?  

I had the pleasure of attending TEDxIESEBarcelona a couple of months ago. My good friend and fellow EO member Raul Aguirre gave a passionate talk on a special secret that has led to his success.

The hidden secret that led to Raul’s success

This talk reveals new insight about the real reasons of success of famous and not-so-famous people – and how to apply these principles to be much more successful – and happier – in any field.

Raul Aguirre

Raul is the Founder and first CEO of Tango/04 Computing Group, Inc. He does wonderful drawings and has a cool instagram account @osplo. He Graduated in Computer Science (University of Buenos Aires), EO/MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Entrepreneurship Master Program, and the Superior Institute of MorphoPsychology (ISM, Barcelona). Designer of award-winning technologies (such as the APEX Award of Penton Media for VMC, USA, 2004) and products sold in more than 50 countries.

TEDxIESE Barcelona

Check out the full playlist of speeches from the first 2 editions of TEDxIESEBarcelona:

 

Question for you: What do you have as your description line in your LinkedIn profile?

Mine says “Moving People to Action”

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What does your LinkedIn Description say?

I see several varieties of description.  Some people just put their job title: “VP Marketing at Corporation Inc”.  Some people an abstraction of their past experience “Experienced Manager in Telecoms Industry”.  Some people describe what they aspire to be.  I leave it at the somewhat vague “Moving People to Action”.  What is your profile description?  It is important.  The founder of LinkedIn says so.

I am reading Reid Hoffman’s book “The Startup of You” at the moment.  He speaks of treating your own career like an entrepreneurial startup.

Life on Permanent Beta

One powerful idea from the book is to keep your career on “Permanent Beta”.  Beta is an IT term for a not-yet-fully-tested version of the software.  We release beta software so we can find out how it is really used by customers and make many iterative changes before the final delivery of finished software.  Permanent beta is to assume that I am never finished, I am always a work in progress.  Permanent beta is to stop the search for a comfortable, coasting job that pays the bills with little or no effort on my part.

Plan A, B & Z

He speaks of Plan A, Plan B, Plan Z thinking.  Plan A is your current career.  Plan B is your aspirational career.  Plan Z is what you would do if Plan A and Plan B fell apart, the worst-case scenario.

An example in the case of myself 11 years ago:  Plan A was working as a manager in Accenture and working towards promotion to partner.  Plan B was starting up my own company.  Plan Z was living off my savings for a year while studying.

Moving forward to today, Plan A is teaching at IESE, speaking and writing.  Plan B is unclear and needs some work.  Plan Z would be living off my savings for a year or two.  I clearly need to do some work on Plans B & Z.  Reid says you are in danger of unexpected environmental changes if you don’t have some meat on the bones of these 3 plans.

Plan B should be based around the Meaningful Contribution venn diagram.  Jim Collins calls it the hedgehog concept.  It is a combination of what you do well, what you enjoy doing and what the market will pay you to do.  Reid calls them:

  • Your assets
  • Your aspirations and
  • the market realities.

Your assets include hard assets like money in the bank; however the really important inventory is your soft assets – skills, network, personal brand.  What are you known for?  Reid is very, very strong on taking choices that value learning over monetary reward.  The more you learn, the more valuable you can become.

Who you know is What you know

I haven’t read this chapter yet, so I am assuming…  but in a world where google, wikipedia and youtube allow us to find any knowledge in an instant, it is no longer of great value to know stuff.  Practical wisdom – which increasingly is knowing who to call, and knowing that they will answer and take action because it was you that called is the valuable stuff.

Are you Indispensable?

If your boss gives you lists of tasks to complete, you are dispensable.  You are not “you” at work, you are a processor of standardised tasks.  The recipe for being “you” can be written down, and will be outsourced to cheaper labour.

If your boss gives you interesting problems to solve, you are of value.  You are “you” at work.

If you are the one that identifies the problems, and ask others the interesting questions: then you might just be on the path to Indispensable.

Become Indispensable.

How does one become indispensable?  The first step is changing the profile description on your LinkedIn profile.  If your description is your current job title, then it is likely that you have no Plan B.  You are not actively investing in yourself to make Plan B a reality.

To become indispensable, first make your profile description your Plan B “aspirational” title.  Click here to begin that change.

Now, start to invest time, money and energy in making yourself ready to live up to that aspiration.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and dreams and aspirations are supposed to take some work.

Curiosity, Learning and Adaption.

Curiosity is the first step towards Learning.  Explore beyond. How did he do that?  Why did they do that?  What is happening here?  Curiosity is to wonder at the things I do not yet understand.

Learning is the most important daily task to adapt to the changing reality.

Rapid Adaption for yourself and for those around you: you become indispensable.

If you are not indispensable, you are dispensable.

If you are dispensable, you are commodity.  You are competing on price.   There are some mighty cheap people out there, cheap & able to follow recipes, cheap & able to follow a process manual.