5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Mentor

Eighty percent of CEOs say they had mentors throughout their careers, and studies show that good mentoring leads to greater career success. If you’re not part of an organization that encourages or sets up mentor/mentee relationships, asking a person you admire to be your mentor can feel intimidating, but don’t let that stop you. Your mentor will benefit from the relationship too, and the impact they have on your career is invaluable.

Consider these 5 things when choosing a mentor:

  1. What do you admire about them and why? Choose someone you admire in your industry or in an industry in which you’d like to be. This doesn’t have to be someone you know. Study their professional profile and take note of their career path. Write down what you admire about them and why you want to be like them professionally. You can do this exercise with more than one person. It also doesn’t need to be someone who is older than you with more years of experience. Be open to anyone, from whom you think you could learn.

Approaching a mentor:

It’s your responsibility to reach out to the person whom you’d like to be your mentor. It can feel scary, but you can do it! You don’t want to miss out on something that so positively and drastically impacts your career. As stated before, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a response after your first attempt. Try a few more times to reconnect. If you keep getting ignored or are declined, find another mentor, and try gain. Having people that look up to you and want to learn from you is very flattering, so it’s likely you’ll be met with positive responses even if mentorship doesn’t come from it.

When you reach out to a mentor, tell them why you admire them and want them to be your mentor. The more specific you can be, the better. Reference their work or content they’ve shared from which you’ve learned and share how you applied it. If you have contacts in common, have those contacts make an intro or reference them in your message. Make meeting with you very easy and convenient for your mentor. Offer to buy them coffee or lunch somewhere close to where they work or drop into their office at a time that works for them.

Be specific about what you would like to talk about. Don’t ask someone you’ve never met to be your mentor in a message. First, you don’t know yet they’ll be a good fit. Second, they’ll be wary of making that commitment without having built a relationship with you first.

The mentor/mentee relationship

A good mentor/mentee relationship provides value for both parties. They can learn from you, as well as you learning from them. Sharing your ideas, experiences and perspectives might help them solve a problem they’re experiencing or relate to a colleague or subordinate better. When you take their advice and implement it, tell them how it impacted your project or career. Knowing specifics on how their mentorship is helping you will inspire them to keep doing it. Remember, a mentor’s purpose is not to help you find a job, get promoted, or introduce you to their valuable contacts; although, those are often side effects of the relationship. Their purpose is to help you grow, improve, and learn, and you can do the same for them.

Mentors are often the most valuable professional relationships you will have if you choose them wisely. It’s up to you to find your mentors, reach out, and build the relationships. It’s worth effort. Good mentors were likely mentored by someone, who helped them succeed. They will do the same for you, so you can do it for someone else.

Find this and other great content about building better professional relationships on the KORTIVITY Blog.

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Husband, father, sailor, and entrepreneur.

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