Why you need a mentor and how to find one
I believe that having a great mentor is one of the best ways to grow personally, in your career and beyond. Here are a few reasons why:
Mentors have experience. The ideal mentors are people with experience in their fields. They’ve been there, done that, and got the wisdom to show for it. They’ve had the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, as well as finding out what works well. You can learn from their experiences to avoid making mistakes of your own.
Mentors keep you motivated. Great mentors believe in their mentees and want them to succeed. They see their job as helping you to navigate your way to career success by learning to overcome obstacles and stand out from the crowd.
Great mentors are incredibly honest. Effective mentoring happens when there’s not only “chemistry” between the mentor and mentee, but when there’s also room for honesty. Unlike a friend, colleague or family member, a great mentor shouldn’t hold back hard truths to spare your feelings. They should offer constructive criticism to help you grow.
Top mentors will introduce you to their networks. A great mentor will go beyond helping you to think differently and learning from her experience – she’ll also go out of her way to open doors for you through her own connections.
Great mentors boost your personal brand. By tying your personal brand to someone who has an established and successful personal brand of her own, you boost your credibility and grow your reputation through the association. A recommendation from your mentor is a powerful personal marketing tool.
Now that you’re armed with reasons to get a mentor, how do you actually find one?
Start with people you know. Think about people you admire who you already know. Perhaps there was a lecturer you had particularly high regard for at university, or maybe you learnt much from a manager at a previous company. We instinctively know the types of people who would make great mentors, but often we just haven’t thought about asking them for help.
Find someone in your field or a related area. For top career advice, you want your mentor to have working knowledge of your field of expertise, or at least a similar area. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, you will need to find someone who has some sort of knowledge of the financial services industry.
Don’t be scared to ask. If you sit around and wait for someone to ask to mentor you, you may never find a mentor. Often, we’re afraid to ask someone to be a mentor because we’re either scared of being rejected or of asking too much of someone. There’s no harm in asking though. Most people are excited about a chance to share their experience, and even if the person you ask can’t help you, she may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.
Consider multiple mentors. You might need more than one mentor. For example, if you’re a lawyer, you might want someone with legal expertise to mentor you in your career, but you might also want someone with marketing experience to help you to grow your personal brand, or someone to mentor you in balancing work with raising children. Having more than one mentor ensures you don’t put too much pressure on any one person, and also exposes you to people’s different skills and strengths.