In an extremely competitive job market, having a good mentor can mean the difference between continuous professional growth and career stagnation. Those taking part in mentorships can receive helpful advice, support, constructive feedback, and oftentimes, lessons learned from years of workplace experiences both good and bad. However, seeking a mentor may feel like a daunting task. And for many, it can be difficult to decide where to begin. Below are a few tips to help guide the search.
Think outside the box
Valuable mentors can be found in many places using various strategies. The best approach is to explore options across multiple disciplines and functions. For example, a successful search might begin with inquiries to individuals within non-profit organizations, community service groups or business chambers. Even one’s own family members can sometimes be a valuable resource.
Individuals seeking mentors should ask clear and specific questions of those they may invite to provide them with professional guidance. Mentor seekers should also be able to state their goals concisely. Consider the following questions:
- Will the mentorship help with the development of hard skills?
- Is networking assistance a major need?
- Is gaining new experiences and knowledge the primary goal?
Considering these issues early in the process will help ensure those seeking guidance are targeting the right people with the right expertise.
Seek inspiration and knowledge rather than a best friend
Those seeking a mentor should not lose sight of the long-term goals of obtaining knowledge and inspiration. Finding a best friend or someone who will coddle their mentee is not the objective.
Extend comfort zones
A mentor should inspire and push their mentee beyond his or her comfort zone to encourage growth. Individuals skilled at providing guidance will seek to be as honest as possible with those they are assisting and offer constructive criticism. They will remain respectful and effectively inspire their mentee.
Recognize that finding a good mentor is often a challenge
Finding a mentor is no easy task and convincing someone to agree can be quite intimidating. Those in search of a mentor should not only be confident in their conviction but also mindful that these individuals are not being compensated for their time. Often, the best mentors have very demanding schedules and those who decline requests for guidance should be treated with respect and appreciation.
When a good mentoring relationship is formed, the experience is often rewarding for both individuals. Good mentors recognize the importance of helping individuals reach their full potential. Conversely, good mentees value the insights and wisdom of investing the time to examine and learn from the experiences of others.