A mentor can be a fantastic asset for any young professional. Employers recognise this and many larger organisations now offer their own formal mentoring schemes for graduates and new recruits.
While these can be very fruitful, finding a productive mentoring relationship – and then nurturing it – is often an intuitive process. With this in mind, here are some tips for finding the right mentor and how to work with them:
1. Evaluate your needs
Your first task is to ask yourself why you’re looking for a mentor and what you hope to gain from the relationship. Once you have a clear idea of your goals you’ll be in a stronger position to understand the kind of person that could complement your career.
2. Reach out
Put yourself in the driving seat – you need to be willing to network and to identify potential mentors and approach them. Remember to be considerate and polite to everyone around them. You never know who will be the person to put in a good word for you.
It’s important you’re portraying yourself in the best possible light at all times: are you someone who goes the extra mile, puts their hand up, throws themselves into everything and doesn’t mind doing the menial tasks? These are the qualities that will get you noticed and attract potential mentors.
4. Get to know them
Before formalising a mentoring relationship you need to establish rapport. It’s fine to make a request once you’ve connected with them – in fact, most people prefer it – but take the time to sit down over coffee and find out a little bit more about them and their career as well as sharing your own experience to date.
5. Take it slowly
Make sure you build that rapport before you ask for too many favours. Get a feel for their schedule and way of working and then see how you can integrate yourself. Communicate with them using their preferred method; get a feel for the level of intensity in the mentoring relationship with which they are comfortable.
6. But do be proactive
It’s a two-way relationship so always have the aim of delivering value to your mentor: sending articles relevant to topics you’ve discussed or you know they are interested in or helping them in your strength areas. Keep the lines of communication open, offer suggestions as to how they can help you and show them you are putting their advice into action where possible.
7. Acknowledge their help
Mentoring takes work and it’s important you recognise your mentor’s efforts and show your appreciation with a quick call or email after a favour. Update them with your progress and let them know when an idea of theirs has come to fruition.
With the right blend of personalities as well as commitment from both parties, a mentoring relationship can be extremely beneficial for both parties. By demonstrating appealing work qualities, choosing your mentor carefully, and being proactive and respectful you can set a very strong base for the relationship to thrive.