A mentor can make a big difference in your career. How do you find the perfect mentor for each stage of your career? Then, how do you know if your mentor is giving you bad advice? Read on for the secrets on how to find a great mentor.
When you’re fresh out of uni, or starting your career, you don’t necessarily have established networks with highly influential people. So, how do you go about getting a mentor? All you need to do is ask.
How to ask someone to be your mentor?
Try approaching the potential mentor by saying something along the lines of, ‘I’ve got some challenges in my career coming up. I really admire what you’ve done. Would you have 10 minutes for a cup of coffee?’. They almost always say yes, even if it's for a quick half hour chat.
Once the ice has been broken, what’s the next step? First, you need to make sure you’ve established a good connection. Then, if it feels right say something along the lines of, ‘This has been terrific. I’m going to try a few things now, thanks to your advice. Do you mind if I come back to you in four or five weeks just to chat about how I’ve gone?’.
Mentoring meetings are usually a month or so apart. In that second meeting get further advice, ask for insights and – provided you’re feeling good about the situation – arrange for a regular catch up. You now have a mentor!
That all sounds easy, right? The biggest thing that stops people is fear. Business leaders can be scary to approach. Though, mentors can also learn from their mentees.
So, maybe thinking about it as a mutual relationship will help quash that sweaty, jittery feeling you get when you think about approaching your career hero.
What traits to look for in your mentor?
It’s important to spend time choosing a mentor. Remember, this is a relationship that can help shape your career. If you’re regularly catching up with someone who doesn’t inspire you, then what’s the point? Below are some tips to making sure your mentor is the right fit.
- Look at your mentor’s career path – is where they’ve gone where you think you’re likely to go?
- Ensure you trust your potential mentor – your meetings with your mentor should be a “safe harbour”
- Make sure your values align with those of your mentor
- Get a sense of who your mentor is – remember, this is a two-way relationship. You need to make sure there are few conflicts
- Make sure you’re getting something out of the relationship – there’s no point wasting your time on catch ups if it’s not beneficial to you
- Give yourself time to build a good relationship before signing on for regular catch ups – it can take a few meetings for people to reveal their true colours