At the best of times, we need an ear––and it’s no different in the professional space, as in our personal space. The need to have someone there to bounce an idea off, or to gain unbiased insight from; that’s not our boss, or our significant other. Sometimes, our journey can seem long, and confusing, and finding our way can leave our head spinning––having someone that’s a few steps ahead in the professional world can be the break we truly need. This is where a mentor can come in.
Mentors come in all shapes, and forms––and everyone has a different story as to how they first met their confidant, and the relationship that has blossomed; helping define, or steer their career in the right direction. How do we find our own version? And how do you know they’re the one? It takes some patience, and a little bit of skill.
How to Find a Mentor
At times it’ll come naturally, and you’ll end up in a mentor-mentee relationship without even knowing. At other times, all you need to do is… ask. Could your mentor be a former lecturer from your university? Someone that you’ve previously worked with? Or someone you’ve met at an event? Or maybe you have a mentor without evening knowing? This could be a confidant in your team; your manager, or colleague.
Don’t be confined to your own industry either, sometimes the best mentor can come from outside the confines of what you know and can offer a fresh perspective.
The most important thing to identify is WHY you need a mentor––whether it to be climb the career ladder quicker, be better at dealing with a difficult boss, help identify your personal strengths and weaknesses, or start your own company. Once you are clear on this, you can source the right person from there.
Your mentor is most probably a busy person. They could be someone that you email once a month, they could also be someone you meet with once a quarter for a coffee . Either way, the time spent with your mentor is precious, and preparation is the key to an enduring relationship together. Come to these meetings with topics that you need help on and be upfront about the agenda. Showing that you value and respect your mentor’s time will lead to much more successful outcomes.
Show the most utmost of gratitude. Shout them their coffee when you meet! This sounds so small in theory, but the time your mentor is taking out of their day to be there for you is… priceless! Appreciate the time spent, and realise you cannot pay for this advice––these small kind acts of gratitude will keep the relationship going, and only make it stronger––sending admiration both ways.
Share Your Achievements
There isn’t much more to say, other than to be proud of the journey that you have created, alongside the guidance you’ve received from your mentor. Landed that dream job? Give them a call! Used your mentors advice about gaining that raise you wanted? Send them message. It’s all about positive feedback, and any good mentor will want to know about these achievements. You’ve both invested time within each other, and by no means must achievements be kept silent. Sing it from the rooftops!
Be a Mentor
This is the most defining piece of advice. It’s the circle of life. When you feel the time is right––and believe it, because that day will come––be the mentor. Give back what you got, it is the most humbling feeling when you can share your story, and what empowered you to fulfil your achievements. Being a mentor could be one of the most rewarding things you ever do in your career.