Updated: May 4, 2020
As I reflect on my own career, one of the things I would have done differently is getting a mentor sooner. If approached the right way, mentorship is an amazing way to learn and grow within your own career. Why wait to learn through trial and error, when you can be mentored by someone who has lived through those experiences already and proved to be successful?
Nonetheless, it can be difficult to know where to start, who to ask, and how to approach the whole mentorship thing. I am not going to lie, asking someone to be your mentor can be awkward or downright intimidating at first and I am here to tell you that it’s okay. Getting out of your comfort zone is where all the magic happens!
Start with WHY
Before you go and ask someone to be your mentor, it is important to thoroughly understand what it is that you want from that mentorship. Are you looking for someone to help you become better at your current role? Are you looking for someone that can help you become a better communicator or perhaps a better computer programmer? Regardless of what you are hoping to gain from that mentorship, it is important that you understand the “why” before you seek it out a mentor.
After self-reflecting and understanding what it is that you want from a mentor relationship, then it is time to do your research. You should not only look for someone who has the skills and strengths that you would like to emulate, but also a personality that you work well with. While you are doing your research, it is okay to have a couple of candidates in mind. Feel free to look both inside and outside of your organization. Attend networking events and increase your circle of professional connections. LinkedIn is a great way to learn about an individual’s professional career and keep tabs of their contributions to the industry.
Once you have found that person, go ahead and just ask the question. I know this step can be extremely dauting, especially for individuals who are a bit more reserved. However, remember a lot of your growth will happen when you are outside of your comfort zone. A face-to-face meeting is always preferred when meeting with your mentor.
Give, don’t just take
As with any relationship, it is important to not just take, you must also contribute. For example, if there are connections that you feel may benefit your mentor, then help get them connected! Suggestions for books, podcasts, and even asking to join some of their projects or efforts would be helpful! Helping each other out gives you a learning opportunity and is also a great way to give back to your sponsor and all the time and effort they have invested in you.
What are some of the qualities you look for in a mentor? Feel free to share any experiences and advice you have regarding mentorship in the comments below!
About the Author:
Caroline Saavedra is the author and founder of Tekwomen.com.
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