Finding a Mentor in the Digital Age
As you chart your long-term career path, and set personal development goals, finding a mentor can facilitate your decision making process. A good mentor has the skills and expertise to help you navigate the business landscape. Instead of predicting your career path alone, a mentor offers a fresh perspective, and valuable feedback to unlock your full potential.
Many notable businesses leaders, entrepreneurs, and athletes describe having a mentor as a key to their success. A good mentor serves as a role model and a confidante, someone who can help you discover solutions and avoid pitfalls that could prevent you from achieving your goals.
Whether you’d like to land a stretch assignment, one that involves more travel opportunities or if you are interested in expanding your current role, a mentor can be a game-changer. Having a sounding board builds confidence, and can help you feel in control of your work life. Mentors can also help point you towards resources for success. If they are unable to answer a question, often they have access to support within their network.
Where to Start…
Finding a mentor may not be as hard as you think. The role of a mentor has changed over the past decade in response to a hyper-connected, competitive work landscape. Creating a robust LinkedIn profile is an effective tool to reach out to leaders outside of your organization. Using the power of networks, LinkedIn has added resources for you to find potential mentors within your professional network.
With the rise of technology and social platforms, age is no longer synonymous with wisdom when it comes to mentorship—finding a mentor with the right experience is key. This distinction allows for a broader understanding of how to find the right mentor, and gives you the ability to look at your network in a different way.
Define Your Goals
A mentor is often a senior leader in your organization or industry who has the leaderships traits you admire. Keep in mind that mentoring also involves receiving advice and in order to fully benefit from the relationship, you have to build trust and be honest about your shortcomings and concerns. Determine the type of support you need. Jot down the skills you actively use in your current role, and where you want to go in increments of 1-5 years. Be able to describe to your potential mentor what it is about their career or experience that you believe will help you navigate yours. Doing your homework will ensure your communication is structured and productive.
Choose the Right Mentor
Once you reviewed your goals, researched your network, and have a better idea of who could be a great mentor for you, evaluate who you see as invested in your success. You may already have received mentoring without knowing that there was an opportunity to seek formal career advice. Often, a mentor is someone who sees a quality in you that you had taken for granted. Think back on moments when a leader recognized your work. Circle back and set up an informational interview to see if you can receive additional feedback. Since you’ll want to be able to have insightful correspondence, looking for someone who has already taken interest in the type of work that you do can help build a long-term mentorship.
Contribute Thought-Leadership to Your Mentor
Often times the role of a mentor is seen as a one-way street where the more senior advisor acts as a sounding board for their mentee. Today, with the growth of technology many mentors do not have the bandwidth to stay on top of the latest trends in their industry. From the best apps, technological advancements, or new ways of solving an old problem, sending your mentor articles of interest and making time to keep them in the “know” can help to build report and ensure that you are adding value to the relationship as well. In a Harvard Business Review article, What Mentors Wish Their Mentees Knew, Vineet Chopra, MD and Sanjay Saint, MD write about the key traits of a mentee that facilitate a robust mentor/mentee relationship. According to their research with leaders in healthcare, being “enthusiastic, energized and organized” will set you up for mentorship success.