August 18th, 2013
Need to Soar? Get a Mentor!

The saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, is applicable here. When it comes to the wisdom that you need to help you advance, your mentor will be the one there helping you to open doors. Whether your goal is career advancement, career change, entrepreneurship or a job seeker, if you need to soar, you need to get a mentor.


By Catherine Adenle

Who is a mentor?

A mentor is that valuable role model of yours, the person that you admire and look up to because of their achievements, wisdom and experience.

A mentor is passionate about their career, has leadership experience, has the wisdom only experience can provide, while you, the mentee is in the early or mid-stages of your career. Usually, you, the mentee seems to be the one reaping the benefits of the mentoring relationship, in actual fact, it benefits both the mentor and you, the mentee.

What’s mentoring?

Mentoring is an effective way of helping people to progress further in their chosen careers.

Mentoring is becoming increasing popular now that its potential is appreciated by most people. It is a partnership between two people, the mentor and the mentee. Normally, the two people work in a similar field or share similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust, respect and understanding.

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” – Eric Parsloe, the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring

When it comes to mentoring, I may be stating the obvious here, but from experience, mentors are a valuable resource for everyone. Whether it’s someone you look up to at work, your former lecturer from university or a successful person in your field, a mentor can open doors for you in your career or open a door to your desired job. I believe in mentoring someone and having a mentor. My interest in mentoring was further solidified through a conversation that I had with a highly successful entrepreneur few years ago. I ran into her at a conference and she gave me some excellent advice for networking, branding and growing professionally.

She told me some apt stories that made me further realise the power of mentorship and why everyone needs a mentor.

“I have a mentor. You are never too old, clever or experienced to have a mentor. Most successful people have mentors,” she said. She proceeded to tell me that some of the biggest names in business have always had mentors and taken advice and guidance from their mentors. For instance, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc., all have had mentors and still have them. “You would be amazed that most successful people have probably been mentored at some point in their lives”.

In addition, research has shown that mentoring relationships succeed and are satisfying for both parties when both the mentor and the person being mentored take an active role in developing the relationship. If you need to get a mentor, now, let’s first explore how a mentor can help you:

How Can a Mentor Help You?

When you get a mentor, he can:

  • Take you under his wing
  • Help you to discover the career path that you may need to take.
  • Help you stay motivated
  • Understand what it takes to get to the top.
  • Be a valuable resource by answering your career related questions and providing good advice
  • Provide you with a wealth of knowledge and resources.
  • Help to connect you to various Subject Matter Experts
  • Help you discover new opportunities.
  • Open the doors to different other opportunities.
  • Be your own personal cheerleader.
  • Be an advocate of your achievements and will be there for you every step of your career.
  • Let you shadow him at work or exchange career tips with you.
  • Praise your accomplishments.
  • Prepare you for a promotion or a job interview.
  • Provide consructive feedback.
  • Help you to set career goals.
  • Help you to be passionate about your success and brand.
  • Be the one person who is there every step of the way during your job search.
  • Look out for you and provide emotional support.
  • Provide a life-long friendship.
  • Alert you to new opportunities.
  • Push you to learn new skills that are needed for your job.

See 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor

Ok, I get it. Now, how do I find a mentor?

To find a mentor, you need to look within or outside your organization for a leader that you admire and who is two or three steps above you.

Mentoring at workYou can also crank up your Social Media presence on LinkedIn and locate a successful person in your field through there. On Twitter, you can search using hash tags for successful people in your field; you can also look through your professional association or just contact the person you look up to directly in person. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone of your choice to mentor you. The worst thing they can say is “no.” Then, move to the next person. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

How do I work with a mentor?

Found a mentor? Great! Now, you should start making the most of the relationship. However, there are set rules that you must be aware of in order to make the most of the mentoring relationship.

The rules are:

  • Discussions between you, the mentee and the mentor are confidential.
  • Meetings are mentee driven, so you must take the initiative and do the leg work in the relationship.
  • As the mentee, any action points are your responsibility.
  • Make it interesting and enjoyable for the mentor, less paperwork as mentors are usually busy people. Discussion should be fun but make them goals focused.
  • The mentor will always empower you to make your own decisions and turn them into actions.

To start with, you need to:

  1. Be clear on why you want a mentor.
  2. Define the type of help you’re looking for in a mentor.
  3. Establish goals for the relationship.
  4. Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are going  to do to make it a successful mentoring relationship.
  5. Don’t limit yourself to just one mentor.
  6. Establish communication methods and the frequency of meeting and contact from the beginning.
  7. Manage expectations and build trust.
  8. Mentoring takes time and needs sacrifices for both the mentee and the mentor.
  9. Be respectful of your mentor’s time and the other priorities in his life.
  10. Before each meeting, it’s important for you to actually implement your mentor’s advice or action points and tell the mentor that you’ve implemented them.
  11. If you are seeing results of the mentorship as they manifest, confirm to your mentor that you are benefiting from the mentorship. This will give the mentor positive encouragement to continue mentoring you.
  12. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviours such as cancelling appointments at the last minute or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.
  13. Pay attention to great skills that you notice in your mentor; these skills include listening, guidance, recommendations and wisdom.
  14. When you receive feedback from your mentor, listen, digest it and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.
  15. Your mentor is likely to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate his guidance.
  16. Talk about your past experiences, projects, goals, skills, development and plans and professional events that you plan to attend with your mentor.
  17. Always thank your mentor for his time after each session.
  18. Make sure it’s not a one-way relationship, so find ways to return the favour by asking if your mentor needs help with any project that he’s working on.

See the 8 Steps to Developing a Successful Mentoring Relationship

If you want to soar in your field, you need to get a mentor. If you are serious about achieving your set goals, it is critical that you get a mentor. Do you have a mentor? Let’s hear from you. Add your comments below.

Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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