Everyone’s heard that mentoring is great for your career – but it’s only great if you actually have one. Well, you don’t want to be left out, right? Let’s talk about how to get a great mentor.
1. Don’t just think mentor, think sponsor too.
Mentoring is essentially about helping you grow and develop, learn new strategies, build a strong relationship with an experienced professional, etc. Sponsoring is about having someone advocate and lobby for you so the you get more opportunities. In the best case scenario, your mentor would do both. As you keep your eyes open for the right mentor, take a look at their mentees. Are they getting sponsorship?
This is especially important for women to think about, as they don’t tend to get as much sponsorship.
2. Expand Your Network
A cold call or email to a potential mentor is much less effective than building a mentoring relationship through an active network. So build relationships with everyone you can inside and outside of your organization. Remember, your next mentor may actually be someone who’s not working at your company.
And here’s the good news: building your network isn’t just good for finding a mentor, it also helps you be more effective as a professional everyday.
How do you go about building a bigger and better network? It sounds obvious, but you simply have to build more and stronger relationships. That means getting to meetings early, so you can introduce yourself to fellow participants. Volunteer for projects which let you work with a greater variety of people. Talk to people at the water cooler. Make an effort to stop by and visit people, grab lunch with folks from different departments, attend work social events, etc.
3. Build A Great Relationship With Your Boss
The process of finding a mentor could take time. Meanwhile, you still have a lot to learn from your direct supervisor. So be open to feedback and coaching from your boss, and look for opportunities to grow under your boss’s tutelage. A great relationship with your boss will benefit you in your day-to-day work and your overall career trajectory. And someday she won’t be your boss anymore but you may want her to stay in your life as a future mentor.
Another important reason you want a great relationship with your boss is that mentors are in high demand – and many mentors will ask your boss about you as a sort of “reference check” before taking you on as a mentee.
4. Be Prepared With Professional Goals
First of all, you want to develop some short-term and long-term professional goals for your own benefit. You’re more likely to get what you want if you’re clear on the target – whether or not you have a mentor. But, many mentors are flooded with requests and want to work with only people who are serious, focused, and clear on what they want. You may be at a disadvantage if you are fuzzy on your goals
5. Be Self Reflective & Open To Change
You must demonstrate that you are invested in your own professional development. Attending trainings and reading professional development related books will help. But above all else, you must be willing to do things differently when you get feedback or coaching. If you become known as someone who is stubborn and unwilling to change your ways, no one is going to want to mentor you.
6. Work Hard
Mentoring will only be helpful to you if you’re willing to put in the work necessary to grow. Imagine how frustrating it would be to be a mentor who’s sharing her time and wisdom with someone who doesn’t go out and apply it. Wouldn’t you rather mentor someone who’s known for going above and beyond and always does stellar work? You want to prove that you’re that kind of person, so it’s time for some elbow grease.
7. Ask for mentorship.
Ultimately, you need to ask for a mentor. Men still tend to ask for mentorship more often than women, so if you are a woman and you are on the fence about it, it’s especially important to give yourself a push and go for it.
What do you think? How did you get your mentor?
Career, Performance, and Management Coach for Women
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