How to identify and secure a great mentor?
Mentoring is hard to get right, but when it happens, it is hugely rewarding for both the mentor and mentee. For those seeking a mentor it can be difficult to know where to start in the search. The first thing to tell you is that you may identify a stranger that you find to be aspirational and you think will be a good mentor. However it is very challenging to convince someone you do not know to be your mentor. Furthermore, on a personal level you do not know if you will get on with them. Stick to people you have at least met, and ideally somebody who is at least an acquaintance.
- Consider your requirements
Think about what you are looking for in a mentor. What would you like them to offer you and what experiences would you like them to have had? Many people look for someone in a position they are seeking to get to in a few career moves time. Commit to your search and keep in mind that it may take a little while to find the right person, but it will be worth the wait.
- What if I don’t know them yet
You may realise that based on your requirements, you have nobody in your network who will fit the bill. I already said that approaching a stranger is not advisable. Therefore you need to bring people into your network who do fit the bill and months or even a year down the line may be appropriate and willing to be your mentor. To expand your network, consider using social media, going to conferences, and other types of industry events. Some organisations actually run programmes for those wanting to be mentors or mentees – so find out if this is something that you can access as it is a great place to meet new people.
- Getting them to say yes
So you have identified the perfect mentor, and you really want them to say yes. The first thing to appreciate is that being a mentor is not for everyone – some people just won’t be interested, and that is unlikely personal to you. A good mentor/mentee relationship is beneficial for both parties. Therefore be sure to sell yourself and explain where you see your current areas for improvement and how you think the mentor could assist you with the knowledge and experience they have. There may also be individuals within your own network that the mentor might be interested in connecting with. Make it clear that you are seeking a reciprocal rather than a one way relationship.
Having a mentor can be very advantageous and can offer the support and advice needed to progress in your career. However for it to work, it must be the right match, and finding that person may take some hard work and a bit of time. The effort will be worth it though!
If you need extra support and advice on the next step in your career, get in touch with Maxwell Stephens and we’d be happy to help.