The Two Steps That Matter Most

We find most meaningful and valuable, the advice and connections of someone we know who is 2-steps ahead, on the same path we are traveling.

We’ve seen it – it’s that parent of a 3-week old baby who snubs the sage advice of his mother and hangs on every word spoken by the toddler parent, only months more experienced than he is. Psychologically speaking, “big-sister advice” has greater influence than “expert advice” because, grounded in recent experience, it feels more relevant, practical, understandable, and useful.

In the school-to-career journey, students are both mentored and mentors. The benefit of mentoring someone 2-steps behind, builds students’ confidence to persist through the uncertainty that awaits them 2-steps ahead.

Likewise, professionals are more likely to offer career opportunities and high-value referrals to those who are more prepared to convert advice into tangible outcomes. Outcomes like internships, jobs, and projects.

No one wins when a senior vice president asks an entry-level professional, “What do you need from me?” and a deafening silent ensues.

Answering that question is far easier when a mentor is someone who just went through that job search and serves up fresh advice and relevant how-to’s.

Understanding this age-old disconnect is why MANGO shows people, including students, how to find the best advice from four different connection types – Advisor, Guide, Supporter, and Connector. Guides are generally two-steps, not two miles, away from where they are.

Try two-steps first.

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Sue Wollan Fan is the Founder & CEO of MANGO, a free networking tool whose mission is to expand opportunities for all by making networking easier, accessible, and more human. She has mentored hundreds to succeed professionally while serving as a corporate executive, nonprofit leader, tech entrepreneur, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping others do work that matters.