1. an experienced and trusted adviser.
I have been graced with several incredible mentors over the years, and each has come in a different way. Sometimes I did not even realize they were a mentor until way, way later (kind of embarrassing, but also super humbling). Each relationship has taught me exponentially more than I could have dreamed of and helped me refine what I need in a mentor. From my personal experience and talking with colleagues, friends, parents and many more people, I have compiled a few tips to help you find your professional soul mate.
Some companies have established, structured mentor programs, so thoughts of finding a mentor might not be as prevalent. For those of you who are in a program like this, I challenge you to make sure that your assigned mentor is the right fit for you. Computer systems don’t know everything (wait, what???), so if you’re not jiving with your mentor, push back and seek a mentor that’s right for you.
There is no limit to the number of mentors one person can have. In fact, some of the most successful people never stop seeking others to help them learn in different aspects of their personal and private lives. Everyone has areas in which they can continue to grow, and that’s ultimately what a mentor is there for. For example, Oprah Winfrey was mentored by Maya Angelou and has said, “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.”
5 Tips For Finding Your Dream Mentor
- Set goals. Do you want to become a social media maven? Maybe your company’s social media manager is your dream gal. Or maybe you are dying to understand coding and how the world of websites and apps actually work. Scope out the developers. One day you could be communicating with them in crazy code language too! Whatever it is, I encourage you to set goals for what you hope to learn.
- Be bold. Some mentors fall into your lap, others you have to leap way out of your comfort zone to find. For example, while I interned at a children’s hospital, one of my mentors was a C-level executive that I emailed after one of her presentations requesting a meeting with her. Then there’s my current mentor, Julie. She is a fellow Swarm employee and we work closely together on our client’s social accounts. She has years of experience in social media and I want to be better at social, especially on the strategy side. Through the course of working together, she has unofficially become my trusted adviser.
- Curiosity is key. You are going to be curious about your mentor, but this is a two-way street. If they’re not curious about you, this relationship isn’t going to go far. A good mentor will want to know how you’re wired, your dreams, your struggles and much more. Keeping your conversations alive through curiosity will make your relationship stronger over time.
- Don’t be dazzled. Everyone wants to be able to say that someone in the C-Suite is their mentor, but is the person in the corner office really your mentorship match? Don’t be blinded by shiny titles and monster salaries. The best person for you could be your colleague that you see grabbing a coffee every morning.
- Self-reflect for success. Skip watching another episode of “The Office” one evening and take 20 minutes to journal where you’ve been, where you are and where you want to go. Are you happy with it? What can you do differently? What are your proudest and not so proud moments professionally? If you’re doing this, so should your mentor. It’s not much help to choose the Creative Director if she has no idea how she got there and why she runs her department the way that she does. It is also important to find someone who stretches you personally. A mentor doesn’t need to be your best friend. Bonus points if they turn into that, but having a mentor is more about someone who sees the world in a completely different way than you do.
Finding a mentor can seem daunting and unimportant, but it doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be either of those. Don’t feel like you have to find one your first day on the job. It takes time, self-reflection and transparency. Relationships are crucial as you go through life, so always be cognizant of people’s influence on you and how they can help you better yourself.
So, whether you’ve just transitioned into the professional world, or you are an old pro at Excel spreadsheets and email etiquette, having a mentor is essential. We get so caught up in growing our clients, that we forget to grow ourselves.
Feeling ready to take on the world? It’s time to ask someone you admire to grab that coffee.