Asking to be mentored by someone can be so strange. I always knew it would be beneficial for me and my career to have a mentor, but it just seemed like such an unnatural thing to ask. “Will you be my mentor?”, “Could you mentor me?”, “Help…please?” – How do you say it?
The thing is, once you’ve got it nailed down, having a mentor can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, not just your career. Your mentor will likely have reached a stage in their life and career where they have incredibly valuable knowledge to pass on to you.
The thing is, I bet you’ve already had a mentor or two in your life, and you’ve not necessarily been aware of it. Most of the time we don’t ask for someone to be our mentor, the relationship just naturally flourishes.
Think back through your life and your career until this point. Your parents are likely to have been your first mentors in life, or perhaps a brother or sister. As you get older, your teachers at school, or lecturers are University tend to take on this mentorship role. There might be a specific person, perhaps a head of year at school who took you under their wing?
When it comes to getting ahead in both business and our careers, it is important to continue this trend, and obtain someone who is willing to take you under their wing and be your mentor. Someone who will support you, encourage you, and be the catalyst for you reaching for impressive, anxiety inducing goals.
A good mentor will be helpful in making you accountable for your personal and career targets, and stay on track to achieve them. It can be easy to swerve away from your plans when you’re left to your own devices in life.
“But…How Do I Get a Career Mentor?”
Right, here are my steps for getting a mentor to help you in either your business, or your career. Let’s keep it simple…
Find someone you admire, and in a perfect world, would love to replicate the success of
For me, this was a local Investment Specialist. During my time as an accountant, I was a bit ‘stuck’ in my career. I knew I wanted to make a change, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to do. I guess in retrospect, I was a bit scared to make the leap into something different.
This relationship very naturally adapted. I never had to ‘ask’ the person to be my mentor. They may not even necessarily view themselves as a mentor, however, I will meet up with them now and then for a drink or coffee to discuss topics related to my career and what I want to do. Having someone knowledgeable in this field allowed me to get an insight into what might be viable areas in the world of investments.
I should add, I found this individual on LinkedIn originally when I was looking to find more information about a specific Investment Qualification. I wanted to know the differences between CISI (Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). I had messaged a few people to find out more information, and he seemed keen on meeting up to discuss over a coffee.
Study the person you admire
You need to find out more about this person. It will greatly help you in your communication, and ability to build rapport so that the potential mentor may be interested in continuing to meet with you.
For me, I found out a little about the company that he ran. This allowed me to ask him some questions during our first meeting, and get the conversation flowing.
It is a two-way street – Don’t make it all about you
While you obviously want someone to mentor you, you can’t expect to have someone give up their time just to discuss everything about you. It needs to be a two-way street. Create interesting conversation, offer up something beneficial to them.
Part of me avoids the term ‘mentor’ as it has some negative connotations to me. I prefer to think of it as building an effective business friendship. We meet up regularly, enjoy each other’s conversation, and discuss important topics related to our career.
Keep the flower nourished…or not
Maintain contact with your mentor. You don’t want them to think that you are only approaching them whenever you have a problem, or need something from them.
Also, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to maintain contact. If you don’t feel as though the relationship is beneficial for the both of you, cut ties. You will easily be able to assess after your first meeting with your potential mentor whether or not you feel as though they may be beneficial to your career.
- Did the person ask questions?
- Were they encouraging and engaging?
- Did they provide effective answers to your questions?
These are all things you can ask yourself during your initial meeting with your potential mentor.
If the meeting went well, then make sure you make some advances for a follow-up plan. For me, my mentor in this scenario paid for the coffee during our first meeting, so I made it a point to make sure ‘I owed him one’ so we should meet up again. Although, our next meeting he ended up paying again and refusing to let me pay…
Let yourself be challenged
Don’t run away when your mentor begins to challenge you. This is key.
Many people will get scared, or start to dislike their mentor if they start to question your ideas, or cause you to be on the back foot. This is one of the key benefits of a mentor. They are there to provide a 3rd party viewpoint and question things. Use this to your advantage!
Are they questioning a business idea? Should you really be doing that? Maybe they have a better unbiased viewpoint than you do. Use their views and ideas to benefit yourself, and don’t take them personally.
The Main Benefits of Having a Mentor
Helps you to grow and develop
We’ve already discussed this to an extent, but having a mentor will allow you to really self-improve and grow within your role. They will point out areas you could improve on, and give you constructive criticism which will make you the best ‘you’ in the workplace.
Sometimes we need a little helping hand to achieve our potential!
Costs you nothing but time
This is one of the best parts about having a mentor. It just costs time. Sometimes that time is incredibly valuable to your mentor (depending on their seniority), but they are giving it up for you. Never complain about having to give up time for your mentor, as it is likely more valuable time to them than it is for you.
Time is often more valuable than money. Remember that.
Ties in with growing and developing. A mentor will set goals for you, and help you on your way to achieving them. Whether that be by providing the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to something you’ve wanted to achieve, or pointing you in the direction of the right individual to talk to…
Trying to look for a reliable accountant who can help you achieve your goals? Maybe your mentor knows one from their experiences. This is a great benefit to having a mentor, it allows you to gain access to a whole host of new potential contacts.
This is incredibly beneficial if you live in an area which you are new to. When I got my first mentor, I had only lived in the area for about two years. The area I lived in at the time was very networking focussed. “It isn’t what you know, it is who you know!” – Having this mentor to give me contacts was immeasurably beneficial to me.
They will point out your mistakes and errors.
Your mentor will likely have more business and life experience than you do. Perhaps you planned to quit your job in pursuit of your side-business. They may tell you that it isn’t time to do that yet. Or conversely, maybe you’re wasting valuable time on your salary job, when you could be maximising your side-hustle into a huge full time income!
Overall, having a mentor is great.
I’ve used the singular for mentor throughout this post, but don’t just stop at one. You can have as many mentors as you want, and each one can benefit you in different ways. You can have a mentor for mental health, for business, for finance, for reaching your fitness goals. The list is endless, and everyone around you within your network can likely benefit you in some way.
Once you change your mindset towards people, you will gain SO much value in your life.