Developing a relationship with a mentor, and becoming a mentor, is a must for successful professional development, engagement and career happiness. A mentor provides you with an avenue of learning scripted specifically in answer to professional development needs. Not only will your mentor offer positive guidance for your career, but they’ll provide a safe haven for objectifying concerns and challenges. They’re also great resources for career enhancing connections and collaborations, championing of your progress and celebrating your wins.
Becoming a mentor also helps you develop professionally. As a mentor, you’ll hone your expertise and become more masterful in your craft. Your better understand your position in the marketplace as you rediscover all that you know (and in some cases, don’t). But more importantly, you’ll give value to others.
And that is one of the most rewarding experience of your career.
That’s the magic of a mentor. But developing a great relationship with this “champion” of your efforts, and becoming a mentor yourself, requires a willingness to be mentored, selecting the right mentor, and knowing where to find one.
Be Mentor Ready: The first thing to decide upon before embarking in a mentoring relationship is whether you have high potential. This translates accordingly: First, you must be committed to professional success and second, be willing to listen and learn. Some career professionals thrive only in relationships where they own the spotlight. Although sharing successes is an important element of a mentoring relationship, it’s less valued than the willingness to learn.
To be a great mentee, you must be open to accepting the guidance of more seasoned and experienced professionals. You should be able to put egos aside and let the mentor take the lead, which may include playing only a supportive role in collaborations. Another mentor readiness test is your level of commitment. Will you respect their time, keep scheduled appointments with your mentor and follow up on what you’ve agreed to do? Finally, you must be appreciative. Extending appreciation along with the offer to reciprocate is imperative.
Select a Mentor. Think of this process like dating. You’re seeking someone who you admire, can comfortably share with, readily learn from and above all, enjoy spending time with. But even though the interpersonal relationship may be solid, you still need to ascertain a couple of key professional attributes in your selected mentor. First, they should be willing to share career-enhancing insight without feeling threatened by your commitment to success. In other words, if the potential mentor is in a similar business or on target for the same position or promotion, the relationship could turn from collaborative to competitive.
Instead, seek someone with industry experience and knowledge that won’t be compromised by freely offering honest insight and leads to help you succeed. Your mentor should also be willing to share their own mistakes and what they’ve taken away from those experiences. When appropriate, they should offer criticism and constructive feedback, in addition to praise. It’s always best to find someone who understands your career path so they can guide you as an expert. And though they are leading the professional relationship, they must be willing to adapt to your needs, as well.
Find a Mentor. When the time comes to find a mentor, start in your own backyard. Ask your friends and colleagues and even those within your organization. Perhaps there is someone that you work with whom you’ve “admired” from afar, but have yet to develop a working relationship with; well, now’s the time. Use informational interviews to test the waters with potential mentors or to identify new leads. Social media sites are another way to develop potential mentors such as reaching out to your LinkedIn contacts about possible recommendations. Local colleges and universities are another great resource for mentor-types who have a keen understanding of this learned relationship.
For more formal alliances, contact your professional associations, Chambers of Commerce and networking groups where pre-established mentoring programs already exist. You might also find your mentor at your next conference. It may take several attempts to find a mentor, or mentors, right for your current professional needs and keep in mind that it’s okay to say “no.” If a mentoring relationship is not helping you, be honest and tell your mentor the reasons why. Perhaps this will be a golden opportunity for the student to be the teacher.
Be a Mentor: Before you commit to becoming a mentor, ask yourself if you’re ready to step into a professional relationship where you’ll routinely impart industry knowledge, share ideas and coach someone eager to learn. If you’ve ever considered teaching, this may be perfect for you. If you think about it, the process of mentoring goes back to the days of apprenticeship where a novice would learn under the tutelage of the master.
Respect the Mentoring: A mentoring relationship is imperative for all professionals who want more out of their careers. It’s fundamental for successful career development, for both the mentor and the mentee. It lays the foundation for professional insight, opens doors for novice professional and creates both unique, and mutually beneficial, collaborative opportunities. But the mentor/mentee relationship is also a personal relationship built on trust. If either party should breach the unspoken code of mentoring ethics, careers could be jeopardized and crucial connections compromised. There’s a lot of power within this relationship and that’s what makes it so all important.
When the mentoring relationship works, the possibilities are endless.
How To Be Career Happy? Find A Mentor And Be A Mentor