Have you considered finding a mentor to give your career a boost? Thought about sharing your skills and knowledge with a star in the career industry? Here are some helpful tips for finding a great mentor.
Consider Doris Appelbaum, CEO of Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc.
It’s all about relationships.
There’s a fine line between “bold” and “awkward.” If you’d like to ask someone to be your mentor, get to know them first. After all, you’re asking them for a major commitment of time and energy. Take the time to get to know them and give them the time to know you.
If you aren’t already acquainted with your potential mentor or mentee, introduce yourself through an appropriate networking channel like LinkedIn. An online channel helps to alleviate some of the awkwardness of making a new connection. Let them know why you’ve reached out. Which details or characteristics do they possess that align with your own career goals, experiences and interests?
Establish a rapport over time. Be prepared to work hard. Put at least as much into the relationship as you expect to get out of it — whether you’re a mentor or a mentee. If you’re looking for a mentor, don’t expect them to do all the work when it comes to helping your career.
Provide thoughtful responses to your mentor or mentee’s questions.Don’t expect your mentor to do your homework. It’s up to you to research industries and opportunities. A mentor’s greatest impact will be in helping you make smart decisions and connecting you with resources you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Keep your eyes open. While it certainly helps to find someone in your chosen field, you can get a lot out of a mentor-mentee relationship with someone you already know — even if they’re working in an entirely different industry. While specific job skills are obviously important, there are universal skills that are essential to success. Find those who have these skills.
Getting ahead in almost any career is easier if you’re a good public speaker, know how to solve problems, can think critically about new situations and can communicate effectively. Appelbaum’s Resume Professionals, Inc. has mentors who excel at these things.
Be open and honest – As you develop a relationship with a potential mentor or mentee, don’t be shy about speaking up about what you want out of the relationship. Don’t expect the other person to know what you want to learn or what you think they need to improve on. Holding back when you disagree, not explicitly stating your goals or not speaking out when you think the other person is doing something wrong might keep things “pleasant” for a while, but it can erode the relationship.
Trust is paramount in a mentor-mentee relationship, and you can’t trust someone who isn’t straight with you. At the beginning of the mentor-mentee relationship, establish ground rules for communication. Make sure both sides are open to honest feedback. Mentors should strive to provide constructive criticism with clear recommendations for improvement.Mentees should speak up when they’re confused about a mentor’s feedback or unclear on next steps.
Know yourself – The most important — and arguably the most difficult — thing you need to do before finding or becoming a mentor? Be honest with yourself. Take stock of your abilities and your attitude.
Ask yourself some key questions: What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What tasks do I excel at and what do I need to work on? What do I want out of this relationship? What do I want out of life?
•Where appropriate, share the answers with your mentor or mentee. It will help to create a foundation for a strong and mutually beneficial relationship.
Like most things in life, success doesn’t come easy. And it’s even harder to obtain when you go it alone. The best relationships thrive when we aren’t too proud to ask for help.
Information provided by Aerotek, a staffing agency.