Monday, February 09, 2009

Meeting With A Mentor

Social and business networking has never been my strong point. I learned most of what I know from independent research and a lot of trial and error. The computer has provided access to forums and help centers where I could ask questions, but relationships have never developed from that. I’m pretty much a loner when it comes to my craft and my business.

Recently I was presented with the possibility of an opportunity. The possibility of an opportunity? Yes, I meant to say that. It wasn’t exactly an opportunity, but a prelude to an opportunity. I was very excited at the prospect of this opportunity, yet I had no idea how to proceed. I was too impatient to fumble through forums and informing me where I could find information on how to proceed. Thankfully, I had one person to whom I could turn. And even more thankfully, she obliged.

The information this woman could provide would be invaluable to me, so instead of just talking on the phone about my possible opportunity, I decided to invite her out for drinks, dinner, lunch, breakfast – anything that was convenient for her. She chose drinks after work, which suited me fine.

We’ve been business acquaintances for a few years now, and the relationship has become slightly more personal over time. This was the first time we had met in a social setting. While it was a business meeting, the relaxed atmosphere was welcome and made me feel even more comfortable just being myself instead of a "business woman." She ordered a Cosmo and I ordered a split of champagne. I knew right then we were meant to be sipping together.

I told her all about my possible opportunity and she was genuinely excited for me. I also told her I had no idea what to do next. For the next two hours she gave me ideas and suggestions I would have never thought of on my own. I took notes. We discussed and laughed as our cheeks grew warm sipping cocktails by the fire and with the excitement of my new prospect. She shared what she knew, and I swallowed it up word by word.

That night I learned the incredible value of a mentor, and what a special person it takes to be a one. This woman could have kept her business sense to herself, as my success could actually be a detriment to her some day. She chose to help someone who chose to reach out to her. For that I’ll be always grateful. I hope to be able to repay the kindness she extended to me that night. More importantly, I hope I can be as good a friend and mentor to someone else some day.

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