Sometimes we can feel like we are on our own with nobody to guide us through our career challenges. Women in particular often have very few role models to look up to in their industries. When you do have someone in mind you may not know exactly how to go about approaching them. These 4 tips will help you find the right mentor:
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Choose somebody that you already know
It is often best to approach someone that you already have a relationship with, instead of someone you do not personally know. This is because somebody that already knows you is more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. They can help you improve yourself and career once you are in a mentor-mentee relationship. This person does not have to be a big boss at your company – they can be a community member, priest or friend. They just have to be someone that you respect and can learn form.
Let the relationship develop naturally
Once you have somebody in mind, ask them out to coffee. You should interact with them in an informal environment where you will both feel at ease. A mentor-mentee relationship rarely begins with a formal request, it tends to grow into that naturally. You can reach out to them and if you hit it off you can meet him or her more often even, without any career agenda
State your expectations
Every functional relationship thrives on communication. You will need to express your expectations of the relationship to your mentor and she or he to you. This will guide you through this experience and help clarify any confusion. Your mentor’s expectations will help you improve yourself.
If she or he mentions that they would like you to be more open-minded this may show you a weakness you have had in the past. If you can recognise and improve this part of yourself, you will most likely flourish. Stating expectations can also indicate whether you two are mismatched or not. This will help you better understand what you need from a mentor in the future.
Stay away from moulders
Although a mentor-mentee relationship has an implied hierarchy, a mentor is not a master who you follow blindly. There is meant to be mutual respect and a level of friendship amongst the two of you. Your mentor is meant to help you reach your goals by guiding you to get there. They mentor simply to share their knowledge and help someone else succeed not to mould them into another version of themselves. You choose this person because you admire their qualities and success. You have to remember that this is your journey they are just there to help you navigate it.
Finding the right mentor-mentee relationship can play a crucial part in your success. When done in the right way it can be a fulfilling and mutually satisfying relationship.
Written by Noma Mtebele