What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Tiger Woods have in common?
Aside from amassing unimaginable amounts of wealth, each of these trailblazers has had a mentor in some form throughout their lives.
In your own professional life – and especially when you’re searching for a new job – a mentor can be an invaluable asset.
A good mentor serves many functions. They don’t only provide guidance, friendship and perspective for your life.
They can also push you to work a little harder and be a little more ambitious; act as an impartial listener; share stories from which you can draw inspiration; and keep you focused.
Ready to find your own mentor? Here’s how:
1. Do your research
Identifying a potential mentor is the first step in the process. But where to start? Who should you consider, and why?
A mentor could be a variety of people, both within your sector or beyond. Family, friends, colleagues, your boss, someone from a local professional organisation, someone from an NFP you’ve had contact with, a social media connection – anyone with an ability and interest in developing your career is a potential mentor.
They may have experience in the career or life path you’re interested in, but that isn’t necessary.
Some qualities to look for are:
- Good listeners
- Natural educators
- Friendly and open
- Someone with a career in which you have a genuine interest.
Before approaching a potential mentor, learn as much about them as you can. What have they done in their life? What are they doing now? What are their interests? This information can inform the direction in which you take your initial conversation.
2. Explain the reason you’re getting in touch
Before getting in touch with your mentor, you’ll need to prepare a reason for reaching out – unless you know them well already, you don’t want to ask them straight up to be your mentor. This can often be too forward and lead to an unfavourable response.
What’s a good reason for contacting the person on which you have your sights set? Perhaps you received a referral from a mutual friend, or you saw them at a local event but didn’t have the chance to introduce yourself – you might even know them from social media and feel you have a lot in common.
3. Share your intentions
If possible, allow a relationship to develop with your potential mentor before dropping the ‘m’ word.
There’s something to be said for getting to know someone before hitting them up for favours – however, you don’t want to be too deceptive about your intentions.
If you’re not in a position to develop a relationship first, start the conversation by asking your potential mentor a few questions about themselves and their professional life, and look for a way to move the conversation into your desire for them to be your mentor.
For example, ask them about their current focus or project. Once they’ve explained it, you could mention your own interest in what they’re doing and how it relates to your desired career path.
It’s all about forming a connection with them and helping them to see what personal satisfaction or longer-term benefits they might get from helping you to find success.
4. Share your goals
If your mentor has been receptive to your suggestion, it’s time to share your goals with them. Discuss the plan you’ve developed for where you’d like to be at the end of your professional career – and how you’re already working towards it.
Next, let them know how they might be able to help you, and what having their help would mean for you.
For example, if you’re hoping to move into a business development job for a charity but you don’t have any experience in the NFP sector, you might identify the executive director of a local community organisation as someone you’d like to be your mentor.
After explaining to them your ambitions and the steps you’re already taking to get there, let them know how their involvement will impact you. What do you hope to learn from their expertise? What kind of role do you see them taking in this relationship?
5. Formalise the relationship
Finally, formalise the relationship by establishing an ongoing mentorship schedule and process. Set up regular meetings or check-ins to keep one another informed and review progress of both your short-term and long-term goals.
Establishing such a formality can mitigate the risk of the mentorship being sidelined – and the risk of losing focus of your goals.
If you want to truly reach your potential and find your way to your dream ethical job, you owe it to yourself to find a great mentor who can help you get there.
This post is based on a tool published by QuickSprout.
Other posts you might be interested in:
- Why you need a personal brand for your job search – and how to make yours amazing
- No work experience? Here’s how you can still land an ethical job