• Mel Butcher

You Were My Mentor

Abstract graffiti painting showing the lower part of a person's face, a cloud, a leaf and an eye

While I was in school for engineering, I showed up.

To class, of course. But what I'm really talking about is - every chance I could show up to a professional organization event, I did.

National / Tampa Bay Association of Environmental Professionals

American Society of Civil Engineers

Water Environment Federation / Florida Water Environment Association

Any and all of it. My big motivator was building a network for my career. But what it also created was the opportunity to be mentored.

I'm not talking about a formal mentoring program.

The professionals whom I got to interact with mentored me, usually without knowing it. I listened to them. I watched them. I paid attention to their behavior. You can learn all kinds of things when you show up and pay attention.

What kind of behavior is acceptable in a particular industry environment?

Who are the people that command a room? What is it about them and what they do?

Who are the people that are able to develop rapport with a potential client and what are they doing differently?

Who has built success in the business over decades and has respect from industry colleagues? How did they do it?

What trends are people talking about and what might that mean for the future of your industry?

I'm using a bit of a meta-mentorship definition here.

But showing up and, in particular, volunteering for a trade organization in any capacity has the added benefit of making a person visible and building their reputation. And that creates fertile ground for finding mentors who are willing, or perhaps even eager, to spend more deliberate, concerted time with you to help you succeed.

So, how will you show up?

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