Soul singer Bill Withers might as well have been writing about the professional world when he penned the famous line, “We all need somebody to lean on.” In business, no one goes it alone, and in recent years, the importance of having a good mentor has become increasingly apparent to workers of all ages and experience levels in various industries.
OK, so we all need one, but how do you find the mentor that’s perfect for you?
In a Business 2 Community post titled “4 Tips on Finding a Career Mentor,” writer and Bubble Jobs social media marketing manager Lauren Riley shares some excellent advice for locking down the right guru to guide you on your professional journey. Her first tip: “identify what you want.” Are you trying to become a better networker or progress within a specific industry? Maybe you just want more contacts? By going into the relationship with clear expectations, you’ll stand a better chance of selecting the right individual.
As you search for that perfect mentor, it might be necessary to “look outside your comfort zone,” which is Riley’s second tip. If your goals are centered on advancing at your current company, then by all means, seek out out someone internally who’s climbed the ladder. But if you’re less wedded to the company — or even to a given industry — than consider friends, family members, people you meet at networking events, and contacts you come across via your social network.
Once you’ve found the person, you’ll want to “put together a schedule.” Given how busy everyone is these days, it’s important to get dates and times on the calendar. If you fail to schedule meet-ups, things could fizzle out, and as Riley says, it’s no good to have a mentor who can’t make time for you.
Lastly, once you’ve got your schedules sorted, Riley suggests you “agree on topics of discussion.” This will ensure you’re never sitting there at the coffee shop and twiddling your thumbs, trying to figure out what to say. It will also give your mentor a chance to prepare for the meeting and put together the best advice possible. And isn’t good advice what it’s all about?