“A coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, counsellor and trusted advisor, a mentor is someone willing to spend his or her time and expertise to guide the development of another person.” – Mentor Scout
In this competitive business world, having a mentor to guide you has become an important factor to success where you not only gain valuable insights and advice but also connections. The value that a mentor brings helps you grow in both your career and as a person. Since your mentor will play a huge role in influencing your life, it’s important to first identify the right person. The next step is to work towards having the person agree to be your mentor.
While you would think that simply asking someone to be your mentor is how it works, don’t be surprised if you encounter rejections.
Women who you consider to be potential mentors are likely to also be seen as the same by others, which may leave her limited time and resources to mentor you. Consider also that prospective mentors are successful women who have invested considerable time and energy in achieving their goals and careers. They would probably still be career-focused themselves which may leave limited time and effort to focus on mentoring others.
Furthermore, due to intense rivalry, many women may face rejection, even from people they already know, such as their senior colleagues. Nicole Williams, author of Girl on Top and Earn What You’re Worth, says it straight: “I’ve never actually heard a woman say, ‘I’m not interested in mentoring another woman’, but we may hesitate to support one another because we might think, ‘If she becomes more successful than me, that may look bad.’” In spite of these challenges, there are ways you can find a mentor and a good one at that. Here are three tips to help you find a mentor.
Three tips to find great mentors
1) Stand out from the crowd
Powerful women receive frequent requests to be a mentor and, understandably, they cannot commit to every request. Keeping this in mind, you will need to stand out from others.
Acquisition Interview Consultant, Gayle Laakmann McDowell, has been a mentor to many; understanding what compels a person like her to mentor someone will help you be that perfect mentee. Talking about how important it is to form a personal connection first, she says, “I recognize the names of people who regularly comment on my Quora posts, who re-share my Facebook posts, and who re-tweet my tweets. If I feel like you’re not just a total stranger, I’m more likely to help you.” Hence, it is important to show that you are genuinely interested in her insights, making you come across as someone who is involved with her line of work.
It is also important that the mentor knows that you value her work. “The vast majority of mentorship requests I get are from people who have read one or more of my books but haven’t posted a review on Amazon,” she says, “If you tell me you love my book and you’re asking for help from me, I’m likely to think, ‘If you love it so much, why not post a review?’” Make yourself visible to your potential mentor and give them an incentive to help you.
2) Value their time
Show them you value their time. Asking them generic questions like “How did you get where you are?” will not help. They have achieved success after working hard for many years; asking them such direct questions can make you come across as someone who does not appreciate their time.
Ask well prepared and targeted questions instead. Questions like, “What do you wish you knew at my stage of career?”, “Who else would you recommend I connect with?”, “What would you do if you were me?”, and “If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?” are some good questions you can ask.
Study their journey beforehand so that when you are given the opportunity to propose mentorship, ask questions about a specific obstacle that you are looking to overcome with their help.
3) Reach out through established networks
The best way to find helpful mentors is through well-established networks, which provide a forum for women to come together and support each other. Behind Closed Doors provides this type of a platform and has helped support many women through its mentoring memberships.
Finding the right mentor to help you in your professional journey may take time, but it is worth the effort. Look out for mentors in circles other than work, join networks and reach out for help, and when you do find that mentor – show them you are coachable.
Mentorship can go a long way in shaping an individual’s business skills, cultivate superior leadership qualities, while allowing the mentee to be exposed to wisdom gained by an experienced individual over many years. Utilising the afore-mentioned techniques will allow you to successfully find a great mentor. You can also join the behind closed doors network of professional women and benefit from our mentoring memberships.
If you have had success in finding a great mentor, share your story with us.
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