There will always be something new for you to learn. No matter how successful you are in your career, you can always benefit from the guidance and advice from a partner or mentor — especially if you connect with someone in the role that you are working toward. Your mentor acts as an invaluable resource with a wealth of knowledge derived from experience. The benefits of having a mentor are truly endless.
A mentor is a trusted professional whose role is to help guide you through advancing your career and help you achieve your goals by providing a new perspective. When you’re looking for a mentor, the ideal candidate is someone who has experience in your field — you’ll be able to gain insight into their real life experiences and learn from their mistakes. Mentors are another avenue for collaboration — their experience gives them the credibility and authority to advise your business decisions and hold you accountable.
How do you know who is a good match as your mentor?
The top advice for entrepreneurs is always to find a mentor, but no one ever tells you what characteristics you should be looking for. The best candidate for a mentor is someone who is truly passionate about their career, not someone who is in it for the money. You’ll get the most out of someone truly involved in their work and has dedicated the time and effort to nurture and grow their career. Their passion for their career will, in turn, fuel your own passion for your career.
It’s not enough to connect with someone wildly successful — what’s the point of working together if you can’t relate to them and they can’t help you with your specific business? You’re not looking for a friend; you’re looking for someone who can be objective and provide constructive feedback to help you improve your business. The ideal mentor is someone who can help you identify problems before they arise and help you correct course with your business to prevent issues.
A good starting point is to determine what areas you need to focus on and improve. What key skills are you lacking? Once you’ve identified your problems, you can start connecting with professionals who exceed in those areas. The appeal of a mentor is finding someone who can help you develop and improve your key skills to better manage your business.
Finding a mentor
There are a plethora of benefits, both professional and personal, to having a mentor, but where do you find one? The best places to connect with like-minded individuals in your field is at a professional conference or at professional networking events. Most conferences are designed for professionals to share their knowledge and learn from each other - the networking opportunities are endless! The forums are set up to encourage discussions and connection amongst attendees. Plus, most conferences are geared toward a specific industry or theme, so you already know you share something in common with all the other attendees!
Social media is also a great place to connect with other professionals, especially ones who may not be in your reach. LinkedIn is a great directory for finding people in the roles that you aspire to see yourself in. No matter what platform you choose, be sure to engage with their posts and add value to the discussion with your comments. The great thing about social media is that you can analyze and assess a person’s profile to gage their willingness to engage with others before reaching out. If you’re nervous about being shot down, social media is the way to go!
No matter where you initially connected with your mentor, it is important to maintain regular contact — whether it be weekly check-ins or monthly coffee chats, stick to the schedule that you have established! They’re meant to be there with you every step of the way as you grow your career, not someone you call when you are in a crisis. The benefits of a professional mentor are immense, but who you pick is key. Just because someone is a great friend does not mean that they will be a great advisor. Be particular about who you connect with and who you turn to for advice to advance in your career.