If there is one thing I have learned in my short period of being a career-driven woman, it is that mentorship is highly valuable. If there is anything else I have learned, it is that actually finding a mentor is not always an easy task. Furthrmore, it's important that you don't limit yourself to just one. Making genuine, authentic connections should be an ongoing effort you make at all times. Don't just settle for one and call it a day, keep this up and expand your roster of mentors to keep learning, connecting, and building your network.
According to Forbes, 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development. Additionally, the American Society for Training and Development has found that the time and insight that mentors offer their mentees can not only help them bypass mistakes but also can contribute to building future leaders of their industry.
According to Forbes, 75% of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development.
Although finding a mentor is a highly coveted activity — I have noticed that what has worked for myself, isn't common knowledge among Millennial and Generation Z professionals. So here are some tips I've learned as I've grown as both a professional and a mentee.
1. Be eager to be a STUDENT
Mentors want rising professionals to be genuine about achieving their career goals. They'll almost never want to hear about your goal to make six-figures in five years, but rather want to know about what position you see yourself in. This could mean setting goals like achieving greater seniority in your current company or gaining new experience in a new department. If you are unsure of your exact goals, that's okay! Mentors highly appreciate those who are eager to be a student and just learn. You will discover that most mentors in leadership roles never obtained their position with a "typical" route.
Mentors highly appreciate those who are eager to be a student and just learn.
That's why true mentors want to teach someone who is adaptable and open-minded. Remember, this is an investment of their time and effort, with the intention of contributing to a future industry leader.
2. Connect, connect, connect!
Finding a specific mentor is like a sales job. If you are adamant about learning from a certain person, stay connected with their social platforms, keeping up to date on their current work is crucial. If you don't know your mentor and what they do, why should they want to know you? I have found great success with an old-fashioned "cold call," but through the less old-fashioned email. Begin your message to them with something that actually resonates with you (and no, not the first search link that shows up on Google). It is vital to be the person that stands out among all the emails they're getting to show you are committed to achieving your career goals. If they don't answer within a week or two, follow up. People are busy and emails get lost among the different priorities and updates they're constantly juggling. Besides, industry leaders admire persistence.
3. Work For Free
Anyone you meet will rarely ever want to give you something without something else in return. With that being said, if you are trying to obtain a mentor who has a busy schedule or is a high-profile professional, you might be able to get the teaching you need by working for free. If you are a good writer, offer blog writing services or drafts of press releases. Have a passion for social media branding? Be a social media manager if their company or personal brand needs help. Do you think you have someone else in your network that they could benefit from? Introduce them. Gary Vee is notorious for emphasizing the importance of working for free as a side hustle in obtaining your long-term career goals.
4. Be Fearless
Attending networking events and conferences are great ways to connect with other people in your industry, especially mentors. But, sometimes, you can find a mentor on a subway ride or at a grocery store line. Being fearless and simply not giving an F* about if a person likes you or not, is the right attitude for gaining the respect of a mentor. Again, for mentors, this is an investment of their time with the intention of molding industry leaders — acting bold is vital.
Being fearless and simply not giving an F* about if a person likes you or not, is the right attitude for gaining the respect of a mentor.
Besides, if they don't like you, it wasn't meant to be anyways.
5. Be Human
Once you have a mentor, or even just someone in your network, it is highly important to foster that relationship. Like any relationship, this is work. If you met them for thirty seconds at a conference, send them emails throughout the year. If you have known them for five years, send them emails throughout the year. They do not even need to be grand news, a request for advice, or even career-related — just a check-in is enough — being genuine builds trust in your credibility and reputation. During this time, I have reached out to multiple people I haven't talked to in over a year just to see if they are healthy and doing well because at the end of the day, I care about them, and caring can go a long way for your personal and professional goals.
WRITTEN BYDevi Jags