How to Find a Mentor in Your Workplace
As a woman navigating the reigns of corporate leadership can be difficult, particularly if you want your voice to be heard. Finding a mentor can help you achieve your professional goals more quickly.
A mentor is a seasoned professional usually several steps ahead of you, who will informally help guide a person with lesser experience in their professional endeavors. Even though the mentor is giving their time to the mentee, the relationship is mutually beneficial for both parties.
If you are interested in seeking out a mentor to improve your professional standing and to map out the next steps in your journey, you will want to look for an experienced mentor in your industry and network who also holds your same values. Professional and personal development are key to advancing your career goals and you can fast track your success by working with a mentor.
Understanding the Mentor Relationship
When you are seeking a mentor, it's important to have clarity on what you expect first. Define what you want out of your career and what is missing to get you there. Consider your mentor/mentee relationship as it was much like a business friendship. Lean into your own professional network when seeking out a mentor as a starting point. You probably already have informal mentors who give you advice in a variety of different ways and establishing that connection and moving into an ongoing relationship should be your next approach.
Coaching and mentoring are different so bear in mind that when seeking a mentor, you are not seeking out a coach. Coaching relates to short term personal relationships between two individuals where the coach uses creative and thought provoking strategies to help the client professionally or personally.
A mentorship, however, is a longer relationship usually at least one year that is mutually beneficial. Your mentor will be your professional guide who parts wisdom, expertise, and knowledge. A mentor can serve as a sounding board throughout your career and can also help you with specific issues you are facing, such as business pitfalls. When you are focused on the day to day of your job, it's all too easy to lose out on seeing the big picture. This is where your mentor comes into play. Your mentor can help connect your day to day work to the bigger picture of your career and help you understand what it will take to get there. The support of an experienced mentor can be instrumental in guiding you through your career and professional development.
Successful mentoring relationships come down to the right match of people. You can start by looking in your network for teachers, co-workers, former bosses, former professors or family friends.
You want someone, of course, who will be able to give you that long term advice and has knowledge of your industry. In an ideal situation, this person should also have familiarity with your company and what it could take to advance within your individual role. This does not necessarily mean that your mentor needs to work at the company. In fact, there are reasons that this person not working in the company can be in your favor. Someone familiar with the organization but who doesn't currently work there can make a perfect candidate as a mentor.
What You Should Know About Being a Mentor
If you’re on the other side of the coin and are interested in serving as a mentor for someone else, think about how the relationship would have best supported you if you were earlier in your career.
A mentor can be especially beneficial for young and aspiring women new to their career but there are many different stages of your career that would still provide benefits from a mentor mentee relationship.
Getting a new perspective from a seasoned professional and getting valuable guidance in an informal manner are just some of the biggest benefits of working directly with a mentor.
Have you ever mentored someone before or worked with a mentor who had a big impact on your growth? Let us know!