Acquiring a mentor can be one of the most rewarding and career defining experiences you will ever undertake. Regardless of your industry, taking advantage of a relationship with someone who has taken the steps you before you will allow you to grow into the type of person you want to be and will give you the best possible chance to succeed.
In order to take full advantage of a mentor relationship, you need to consider some common questions and facts about acquiring a mentor relationship.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask
Many people starting out their career journey have aspirations and goals, especially around the paths they want to take professionally and the people they want to learn from. One of the biggest issues a lot of professional’s face when seeking out a mentor is the fear of being rejected. While starting out in a new industry and seeking out someone who has been established for some time can seem intimidating, Switch Automation founder Debra Nolan says that regardless of the fear you are feeling, you have to move past it and ask the question, because the answer will almost always be ‘yes’, “In my experience anyone who reaches out, almost nobody says ‘no’ to them,” she says.
2. Reverse mentoring
While the well-established dynamic of young professional, to seasoned pro is still alive and well in today’s working climate, with the speed of change in the workforce, especially in regard to technology and digitisation, the concept of ‘reverse mentoring’ is rapidly becoming a norm. Young people who are well established in their roles and natives when it comes to technology make prime candidates for older generations to connect with when seeking to up-skill or stay ahead of the curb. If you fall into this category, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone younger, it could be the beginning of a great mutually beneficial relationship.
3. Join a mentoring program
Perhaps a little obvious but it goes without saying that there are many professionals out there seeking to mentor and be mentored, and there are many programs and organisations set up everywhere to help facilitate these connections. Joining a program will allow you to get instant access to people who are ready to work with you, and will also help you connect with others in your desired industry, further increasing the depth of your network and gaining exposure to other opportunities.
4. Find a mentor who suits you
Everyone learns differently, and some people want to be challenged from a relationship rather than be supported. Whatever your preference, ensure you take the time to find someone who suits your style and what you want to learn from a mentor experience. It will ensure that you get the most out of your experience and will help you build a lasting, rewarding relationship that will weather any challenge.
5. Go for diversity
It’s important to look for a mentor outside of your field, of the opposite sex or someone who comes from a different walk of life. If you limit your mentor relationship to someone in very similar circumstances to you, you miss the opportunity to learn from an entirely different perspective, and that person could very well be a competitor to you! Additionally, someone of a different background can help you if you are attempting to break into a new industry or engage in a new market.