How to find a mentor
What women should consider to find a mentor
There is much discussion on how to find a mentor with advice for women in particular. The mentoring process for women seems to be less organic than for their male counterparts. In today’s highly competitive and confusing workplaces, finding a mentor can make the difference between a successful career or work experience, and less favourable results. For any woman seeking professional development, knowing how to find a mentor could be one of the most useful pieces of information in their career development tool box.
Many CEOs (mainly male) report how mentors helped them with strategic career decisions which supported or even catapulted them to reach their full potential. In a survey reported in Harvard Business Review, 71% said that their mentor had helped them grow their business. They got help in navigating the corporate cultures of their sector or company, as well as an insight on how to decode those mysterious signals that you can’t understand unless you are in the know. Offering a mentoring culture also enhances employer brand and helps organisations attract, motivate and retain their top talent. There is much debate about whether women need mentors or sponsors and that women are actually over mentored. This might be true for large organisations, but the reality is that women need both. Most organisations don't offer mentoring programmes for women and have few female role models which fosters organic development.
Choosing the best mentor, results in a productive and fulfilling relationship that drives you closer to achieving your career ambitions, to become a fruitful long term connection. [Tweet "A poor mentor can damage your confidence and drag you down."]
Here are 4 tips I’ve observed to share on how to find a mentor who will make a formative change in your life and career. Sometimes an organisation will make suggestions for you, but it’s important that you consider these 4 points.
4 considerations to find a mentor
1. A mentor should provide inspiration
The first step to finding a mentor is self-insight. Make sure you have done your inner work and know what your career goals are and where your strengths and personal development needs lie. Choose a mentor who can teach and inspire you to learn those skills. My first mentor was a skilled presenter. I learned so much from her, tips and tricks I rely on today. It was an invaluable period. I am forever grateful. Having a clear understanding of what you need to work on to develop your career is a vital component to find a mentor. If you are in doubt ask for feedback from your boss in your annual appraisal as well as your colleagues. If your mentor doesn't inspire and motivate you the match may not be right.
2. Be clear about your needs
Be direct about your expectations. What are your goals, and how can this mentor add value to you? Be transparent. It’s in no one’s best interest to be circumspect about your needs or ambitions. A good mentor will understand totally if the match isn’t right. In fact a good mentor will be the first to say “I think you might be better suited to working with x". Look for someone who has walked in your shoes. She will understand your circumstances and challenges. You don’t need to look for someone very senior to learn from their experience. Remember you can also have more than one mentor.
3. Look for someone who shares your passion
An effective mentor needs to share your enthusiasm and passion, but perhaps tempered with some realism that comes with experience. Whatever the reason to search for a mentor, make sure you find someone who looks as if they can guide you to finding answers. It’s not their job to provide them for you.
4. Be humble
[Tweet "Being mentored by someone is a gift."] To find a mentor it’s important to demonstrate that you are willing to learn and open to feedback. Things you might hear maybe hard to take. Make the most of it. Gain your mentor’s respect and always appreciate their time. Show up prepared and ready to engage. Thank them. Listen to their comments carefully. If you disagree, make sure you discuss the options constructively and leave your ego at the door.
Get the most out of every moment and don’t forget to ask how you can help them. Chances are – you have done so already. Mentoring is a two way street.
Invest some time in yourself! Don't wait until it's too late!
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