Everyone Needs a Mentor

Make Your Relationship with Your Mentor Meaningful: Step 4

 

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 4:  Asking for Their Support.

 

  • Before you ask for support, prepare a plan. What exactly do you expect of them? If you’re asking this person to commit, they need to know what they are getting  into. It is not reasonable to ask for more than one meeting a month. Define the type of guidance you need. For example, you may want to present yourself on an interview a certain way and want help creating an action plan. Be as specific as you can.

 

  • Invite the potential mentor to meet to discuss your career. Assure them that you are not asking for a job– you’re just looking for some advice and counsel. At the meeting, define the relationship and your vision. Most importantly, don’t assume the person you are asking will say “yes.” If you sense they are not sure, ask them to think about it overnight. Give them room to say “no.” If they feel pressured to accept, you may not get the level of participation you want.

 

  • If you are already employed, you should not expect your current boss to become your mentor. It is very unique for your manager to also be your mentor because it is very difficult for this person to be objective on issues  of job performance, office politics, or advancement. Look for senior people within your company who have been along a career path similar to yours. Also look beyond your company to company partners, affiliates, and related companies. Professional associations are a good way to meet top people in your field.

 

 

 

 

Make Your Relationship with Your Mentor Meaningful: Step 3

 

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 3:  Make it easy for them to help you.

 

Your follow-up requests should be as little work for your mentor as possible. Here are four requests in ascending order of the amount of work required for them:

 

  • “Can I say in my note that you recommended that I reach out?” (no work for them other than providing the contact information)

 

  • “Would you be willing to send the contact a heads-up email that I plan to reach out to them?” (moderate amount of work)

 

  • “Would you be willing to do a quick email introduction for the two of us?” (moderate amount of work)

 

  • “Would you write or call on my behalf recommending they speak with me?” (potentially a significant amount of work). If they say “yes,” then offer to give them a few bullet points to include in their note on what you are seeking to do and why you are a compelling person/candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?”

UA-9837816-8