How to find a mentor and what to look for
How to find a mentor is often a question in most professionals’ minds. Pursuing whatever career path, you intend to follow. A much more experienced senior in the field will be of great help.
Mentors can help advance your career or offer advice on how to become the best version of yourself. In finding a prospective mentor, you should feel comfortable talking to them about your goals and aspirations.
Mentorships are incredibly beneficial for both mentors and mentees. Both can learn from each other a great deal during their professional relationship. However, much like most things in life, finding a great mentor takes effort and good instinct.
There are several factors to consider as well as weighing the benefits of mentorship. If you want to learn more, read down below all about how to find a mentor and which ones to watch out for.
Finding the right mentor
By definition, a mentor is highly experienced and often highly regarded in their profession, which imparts their knowledge and expertise to someone less experienced. Usually, their juniors in the same field become their mentees. Whether you are a small business owner or a successful entrepreneur fast-tracking your way to become a multinational name, mentors can be an invaluable asset to your team. They can also become good friends.
How to find the right mentor, however, can be a tricky endeavor. From the initial conversation, you’ll want to be comfortable enough to know whether your senior would be a good choice as a mentor. Having a good understanding of what makes a mentor good is also the right way to start your search. There are several factors to consider, and while the “best” mentors are often viewed as such subjectively, it doesn’t hurt to take advice from their previous mentees either.
Things to look for in a mentor
A mentorship only works if both mentor and mentee work together in a harmonious and supportive professional relationship that encourages growth for both sides. An effective mentor can guide their mentee in their career path while still maintaining a semblance of humanity and develop a genuine friendship outside of work. It’s not a requirement, but it would make the relationship more relaxed and trusting.
While there isn’t a perfect formula for looking for the ideal mentor, there are some things you may want to consider first. Busy mentors may be booked and active, but when you need them, they’ll be sure to lend a hand when they can. Apart from being reliable, here are a few other qualities you ought to look for in a good mentor.
Holds similar values as you
A mentor in the same business understands the challenges and concerns that usually plague your co-professionals. You want a mentor who will react to these things as you would, or at least uphold the same values and beliefs you do.
Having someone who understands your perspective is a good way of gaining a confidante and someone who can balance you out when things get too out of hand. Your mentor, after all, is your role model. You want to be like them. At the same time, you want to be better with them.
Experience, wisdom, and success
It is already a given that your mentor is much more experienced in the field than you are. The question now is how they will impart this experience and wisdom in you to follow in their footsteps of success.
A good mentor embodies qualities and potential you already believe you have but can and should be honed into something infinitely better. Your mentor can also be someone who gives you a fresh perspective on things, and that should always be a welcome breath of fresh air for someone trying to learn the ropes.
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Honesty, creativity, and authenticity
In growing your professional career, you will need feedback and plenty of it. Not just any feedback but honest and authentic ones. Your mentor should be able to give you advice on which areas to improve without making you feel small or foolish about every little mistake.
The goal is improving, and you can’t do that if all your mentor does is praise you, though affirmation can also become a powerful tool for professional growth. If your mentor is not afraid of handing out constructive criticism when warranted, you’ve found a good one.
Goal-driven yet empathetic
Seek out mentors who motivate you towards your goals without making you feel bad for taking a break. This is very important as many successful professionals will tell you that rest is just as important as work. In the age of the internet, social media will tell you that grinding twenty-four-seven is the way to go, but it is not. A good mentor will ask you to take it easy and recharge before delving into battle mode once more.
As in any networking event, people mostly flock to the leaders of the crowd. These are the people who command attention because people believe in them. As a mentor, they should be able to instill the same values in you.
Not only about gaining attention but also putting in the hard work that inspires the rest of your team to do the same. Leadership isn’t about telling people what to do; it’s about encouraging people to do it on their own. When you find yourself in a mentorship that inspires you this way, you’ve found a good one.
What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?
You may have heard the term coach and mentor interchanged a couple of times in the past, but the two are not quite the same. Coaching generally refers to short-term goals that use thought-provoking processes to help the client develop personal and interpersonal skills. It may pertain to people like a life coach, a relationship coach, or a spiritual coach.
Mentors, on the other hand, develop a long-term relationship with their mentees. There is no telling how long a mentorship will last or is supposed to last. So long as both parties are privy to the goings-on of the mentorship, it can continue to be beneficial for both mentor and mentee. The mentee can learn so much more from their senior, while the mentor can practice their leadership skills and discover a thing or two from their junior’s fresh, younger perspective.
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How can you attract mentors?
Keep in mind that having mentors isn’t a given for everyone, as first, not everyone wants them, and second, not everyone can be privileged enough to have them. While having an impressive resume, relevant experience, and exemplary skills in the field might most likely gain the attention of your seniors, it isn’t always a guarantee.
So what’s the best way to find an excellent potential mentor? Put yourself out there. Set your goals, define them, but leave room for improvement and mishaps. Setting this path for yourself will help you see clearly which excellent individuals in that particular field or goal you should eye to approach and establish a mentoring relationship with.
Mentor-mentee relationships can be a precious experience and asset, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals. A mentor can become a sounding board at critical points of your career. They can help make or break a decision for you, impacting the rest of your life. However, it is essential to remember that mentors are only there to guide you most — certainly not to control you, your decisions, or your autonomy.
Good mentors will offer you new perspectives, advice and maybe let you in on a secret or two of achieving success in the industry. They will not, however, magically solve all of your professional life’s problems. The best thing your mentor can give you is to inspire you to become proactive in growing your career — to reach out for opportunities and not simply wait for them to arrive. All in good time, finding the right mentor can also mean finding a good friend.
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