Formal learning and work experience provide the knowledge necessary for success in a given field. Finding a good mentor can further strengthen your skill set and offer valuable contacts for your future. Learning from someone who has years of experience can provide unique guidance and learning opportunities. A mentor can impart a competitive edge and lead to a more clear and efficient path of success.
When seeking a mentor, begin with research. Talk to successful people that you know and ask about their mentors or people that they’ve mentored. Ask specific questions about how the mentorship started, what made it work and other ways the mentorship influenced them. Think of what you are looking for in a mentor and make a list of potential candidates. The more informed you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find the right mentor to suit your needs.
Being active in your field will make it a lot easier for a strong mentor to find you. Remain approachable at work, in and outside of your department. The more people that you interact with at work, the better your chances are of finding a mentor there. Take time to get to know people at your company that you don’t work with each day. Take on new projects to showcase your abilities. Be sure to show how much you care about your job. If you are apathetic at work, it will be difficult for someone to want to take the time to teach you.
In addition to utilizing contacts at your present employer, online professional networking sites such as LinkedIn allow you to build networks of contacts throughout your career. Through putting the feelers out for specific mentoring needs, your contacts may be able to suggest one of his or her associates to you. Aside from immediate contacts, consider engaging in more face-to-face contact time. Going to professional conferences may be just the environment you need to find an ideal mentor in your field. Civic organizations that bring professionals together in community projects or regular meetings may also present an opportunity to meet a potential mentor.
Once you have found a potential mentor, make sure that you are prepared before you ask for a meeting. Your mentor is most likely a very busy person, so be organized with your approach. You will want to have a current résumé available. Be sure it is up to date and accentuates your current success. You may also want to prepare a brief report that outlines your current professional development plan so that a potential mentor can easily see the benefits of investing time in you. When meeting with the potential mentor, let your enthusiasm for your work show through. Be ready to describe how you show your commitment to your professional projects through concrete examples that illustrate your accomplishments in clear professional language. You will want to show your mentor that you bring a unique contribution to the organization and that you have a track record of putting in the time, effort, creativity and commitment it takes to be a success.
As a protégé, your job is to actively engage your mentor in a partnership that he or she will also find meaningful. You want to show your commitment to the longevity of the mentorship. Having precise goals can assist both parties in remaining clear about expectations and time commitments. Keep an ongoing dialogue to gauge the effectiveness of the mentoring process.
If you make yourself visible through proactive networking that, prepare your presentation with supporting documents and allow your personality to shine, then you might end up with a variety of mentors from which to choose!
University Alliance submitted this article on behalf of the online programs at Villanova University. Many people find subject matter experts (SME) as ideal mentors. Villanova University offers leadership training courses led by SME’s with years of experience. In addition to leadership courses, Villanova also offers project management certification and six sigma certification courses for professionals interested in these disciplines.