Particularly if you’re just starting out in the business world there is a lot of value in having a mentor. We’re not talking about your boss, or even your supervisor, whose job it is to tell you what to do. We’re talking with someone in your field who can bring an outside perspective to your career and help you move along the path you have set out. BusinessWeek found that only 13 percent of people said they have a mentor at work but those who did found the experience to be a valuable one. If you’re considering getting a mentor, use these strategies to find a good one and benefit from the relationship.
1. Define Your Goals:
You may not get much out of the mentoring relationship if you don’t have specific goals. It’s not your mentor’s job to set the agenda, but instead, it’s yours. You need to drive each meeting, bringing up topics in which you want input and mining your mentor for information and advice about your work. Therefore, before you even look for a mentor, consider what your goals are. Do you want to get specific input on your projects at work? Are you looking for information about how to move up in your field? The answers will help define who the best mentor would be.
2. Consider Role Models:
Because your mentor is helping shape you, you want to find someone who you consider to be a role model. Brainstorm all of the people you know who you look up to in a business sense. Your past managers can be good candidates, but stay away from current managers. Family friends can make great mentors, and they bring an outside perspective because they know you personally, too. If you can’t think of anyone, consider asking your colleagues, friends, and professional association for recommendations.
3. Be Specific About Expectations:
When you approach a potential mentor, be specific about why you’re seeking mentorship. Pitch your goals from the relationship and lay out how frequently you would like to meet and what you want the structure of each meeting to look like. Doing this in advance will help you both be on the same page. U.S. News even recommends trying a trial meeting and deciding from there whether to continue the mentoring relationship.
4. Listen and Take Advice:
One of the best ways to nurture a mentoring relationship and really benefit from it is to listen carefully to your mentor’s advice. Then put it into practice, which not only shows your mentor respect, but also can stretch you and develop your career. Much of the point of mentors is that they think of things you don’t because of their experience, so you will get the most out of the relationships if you trust their advice. Keep up on your end of the bargain by actively engaging in the relationship.
5. Spot a Good Mentor:
Effective mentors identify the mentee’s area of growth and help them reach it. Mentors should be open, communicative, and good listeners. They should be able to dedicate at least one hour bi-monthly to the relationship whether its connecting through email, video chat, or face-to-face meetings. A successful mentor-mentee relationship is one that is collaborative. The mentee is encouraged to grow—while the mentor will benefit as well.
Having a work mentor is one of the ways to set yourself up for success in the workplace, so even if you don’t think you need one, consider trying it. It’s helpful to have someone who you can bounce ideas off and who has an outside perspective on your career. You can always switch mentors over the course of your career, so don’t worry too much about finding the perfect person, and instead, start now.
About the Author: This article was written by a guest author from ManagementDegrees.net.