What is a Mentor?
A mentor is someone who invests time and energy into helping you succeed. She provides advice and possibly referrals to new career or business opportunities.
Why Have a Mentor?
A lot of times as a professional, both young and old, you don’t know how to take the next step. You want to further your career, but you don’t want to make the wrong move. Other times, you may need new business opportunities to grow your business. However, you’re not sure how to find those opportunities.A mentor is someone who invests time and energy into helping you succeed. She provides advice and possibly referrals to new career or business opportunities.
In each of these circumstances, having a mentor to speak to may be the difference between failure and success. A mentor may have deep industry knowledge and a strong professional network. She may have the answers you are looking for or the people who you need to be in contact with. In other words, mentors are critical for your professional success.
What Mentors are Looking For?
Respect. You probably won’t gain many mentors if you are a jerk. They are investing valuable resources and time into your success, so treat them with respect.
Positive Attitude. Having a positive attitude increases the chances that ANYONE will help you. Your mentor is most likely busy and puts up with a lot of stress and issues. If you come in with a lot of negativity, that will only make his day worse.
Desire to Learn. If you don’t have any desire to learn, then why cultivate a mentor in the first place? A mentor wants to see his mentee succeed. In order to succeed, the mentee must be willing to learn from the mentor.
Self-Starter. A mentor wants his mentee to take initiative and get things done, even if the mentee fails. Failure is just part of the learning experience.
How to Cultivate a Mentor
I feel that it is best to cultivate a mentor organically. You don’t formally ask if someone wants to be your mentor. Similar to a friendship, the mentor-mentee relationship forms through shared experiences.
Your mentors can be people who you talk to at work. They can be people higher up who you have worked on projects for, even if they are not your direct manager. They can be people you talk to while getting your morning coffee. When you have a career-related or business-related problem, you can ask one of them for advice. When you’re not asking them for advice, you can have casual conversations when you run into each other. If one of you leaves the company, be sure to keep in touch.
Your mentors can be people you meet at community centers, recreational sports, religious establishments, classes, etc. These activities are excellent ways to develop relationships with people. Some of these people are bound to be more experienced and knowledgeable than you are. If you need some career advice, you can simply ask while you are participating in your shared activity.
How Many Mentors?
There’s really no limit to how many mentors you can have. I recommend cultivating several mentors in a variety of industries and of varying experience levels. As a result, you’ll have different opinions when you really need them.
Professional Development and Personal Finance Blog