Get ahead with a helping hand: how to find a mentor
Do you have a goal and want to stick to it? Get someone on board to hold you accountable. And the best person to keep you on track? A mentor.
Mentors and managers?
Your workplace manager may well offer some mentoring support. They should help guide your career and give you useful feedback. But a mentor needs to be able to offer you objective advice that is separate from your workplace. This enables them to tell you when it’s time to leave.
This is especially important if you work in a small department: you may be the big fish in your small pond. But you are never too skilled, experienced or senior to learn more. A mentor in your field or industry, outside your workplace, could offer a depth of expertise none of your colleagues have.
So a mentor could be the key to unlocking a more fulfilling career – or taking the next big step. But how do you find one?
Formalise an existing relationship
If you have a current or ex-coworker already invested in your professional development, try formalising that relationship. Create an agreement to meet up for coffee, or lunch, on a regular basis. Prepare an agenda, or timetable of goals. Use this opportunity to hold yourself accountable to an external figure.
Ask for a recommendation
Trust the power of your network. Your bosses and other leaders at your work will be well connected with other skilled professionals. These people be looking for mentorship opportunities for their own personal development. Asking around through people you’re already connected with means you’re more likely to find someone authentically invested in your progress.
Search online for offline development
The best way to get value from your mentoring relationship is by seeking someone who is a local leader. Search local websites, event directories and social media for people who are at the top of their game. Specifically in the skill or industry you’re looking to upgrade in. By looking online, you’re expanding your potential to network. You will also be focusing your attentions on individuals who have already raised their profile for mentoring
The best mentoring relationships are the ones that are focused and simple. Create an agreement that serves you both. Agree a regular schedule of meetings, communication and goal-setting (and achieving). Check in regularly, and treat the relationship as an important commitment.
Treat it as a service
It is possible to hire someone to mentor you. By creating a service-based relationship, you can be comfortable in knowing your mentor is also gaining value or reward for their time. This removes the awkwardness of mixing relationships with professional development. With money in the game, you’re more likely to keep on track and accountable.