Career Advice Blog

Make Your Relationship with Your Mentor Meaningful: Step 2

 

A good mentor is knowledgeable, generous, a good communicator, and committed to the relationship. You may be lucky enough to have someone such as this already in your life. However, in most cases, you’ll need to recruit one. Here are some tips for finding a career mentor, soliciting their support, and making it a meaningful relationship.

 

Step 2:  Make smart requests that are easy for them to respond with “yes.”

 

  • Smart requests are ones that are in your contact’s “sweet spot” in terms of their ability to help you and are consistent with how well they know you.

 

  • First, share the opportunities you are pursuing, initially by offering to send them your resume and a sample cover email for a target job. You may want to include three or four bullet points that best describe how you communicate

 

  • Your key selling points and ask them for feedback. Second, you will want them to know how important your goal is to developing an effective mentor relationship and how you think you can benefit from this relationship.

 

 

 

Make Your Relationship with Your Mentor Meaningful: Step 1

 

A good mentor is knowledgeable, generous, a good communicator, and committed to the relationship. You may be lucky enough to have someone such as this already in your life. However, in most cases, you’ll need to recruit one. Here are some tips for finding a career mentor, soliciting their support, and making it a meaningful relationship.

 

Step 1:  Develop a short list of folks who can potentially help.

 

Identify one or two folks in each of the following categories:
  • Peers – friends, relatives, current/former teammates who are pursuing similar tracks and ideally are a little ahead of you
  • Job/recruiting contacts – folks you have met through your job search activities to date who work at organizations that you are pursuing
  • Experienced professionals – friends of friends/family, alumni of your schools, former bosses who have connections, opportunities and wisdom

 

 

Finding a Mentor Doesn’t Have to Be a Formal Arrangement

 

You don’t have to declare someone your mentor, or have them sign an agreement. A mentor can be someone who is a friend or coworker who happens to be in a professional position which lends itself to being your mentor. If the person is willing to answer questions, give advice, and lend a helping hand from time to time, you have yourself a mentor! That being said, a mentor should definitely be a willing participant. If you are not sure, you may certainly ask your prospective mentor by saying something such as, “Your career has been very successful, and I think I could learn a great deal from your experience. Would you mind if turn to you as a mentor and resource for answers to career-related questions or for problem-solving advice?”

The Right Mentor Can Help Develop Your Career

 

Once you find the best mentor who is in the right professional role and who has the right characteristics, here are a few ways a mentor may be able to assist you in developing and advancing your career for optimum success:

 

  • Networking contacts. An experienced mentor will have accrued and collected a number of professional contacts in the field, which could soon become your professional networking contacts!

 

  • Navigate politics and bureaucracy. Job titles tell you who has authority at any given organization, but a mentor can tell you who has the power. Politics are a part of any organization, and missteps can be costly. A mentor can also help promote you within the organization to key players who can help advance your career.

 

  • Learn what they did not teach you in school. You have learned many theories, principles, and formulas. You may have even worked as an intern or be familiar with a profession. But now that you’re working at a job for real, there are many situations you will encounter that were not taught in school. A mentor can help fill in the blanks between theoretical knowledge and practical know-how.

Characteristics of a Good Mentor

 

Everyone should strive to have a good mentor on their side. Having a good mentor relationship established from the moment you complete your athletic career can prove to be invaluable. A good mentor can help you set and achieve your goals, avoid career mistakes, help you establish your network, navigate office politics, or assist you in correctly reading career signals that periodically pop up.

 

Here a few tips on finding a mentor who can help you grow and develop as young professional:

 

A mentor should have experience in the field in which you work, or aspire to work. Obviously, a mentor who is experienced in your chosen field is going to be able to assist you with more knowledge and expertise. A mentor should work in your type of field or profession. For example, if you are an accountant or aspiring accountant, you should choose an experienced senior-level accountant to mentor you. New auditors or future auditors should find an experienced auditor to mentor them, and so on.

 

Choose a mentor who is local or nearby, if possible, and ideally someone in your organization. Not only is it more convenient to have your mentor nearby, it also enables your mentor to guide you through situations that may be specific to your area such as economical, political, or legal issues which may affect your role. For example, some jobs, duties, authority, and autonomy vary from state to state for many companies. Additionally, laws and licensing requirements for each state may be different, and local experience can really help.

 

Find a mentor who has a good balance of similarities and differences compared to your strengths and weaknesses. If you select a mentor who is a total opposite of yourself, you may find that it’s too difficult for you to relate to that person. Therefore, it could be challenging to follow their lead and guidance. On the other hand, if you choose a mentor who is exactly like you in every way, he or she may not be able to add as much to your existing skill set as someone whose strengths balance out your weak areas to help you grow. Ideally, you should try to find an individual who shares your values, work style, and sense of humor. If you can locate a former competitive athlete that understands the value of your acquired soft skills, this would be an ideal candidate.

 

 

 

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