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It’s a myth that anyone can be self-made these days. Making connections with other people in your industry is more important than ever when growing a business.
Is Pride Getting in the Way of Your Success?
Often when we think of mentorship, we think back to the early years of our careers, when we were just starting out in our chosen field. Entry-level workers are desperate to learn and gain crucial industry knowledge, but it’s just as intimidating as ever for them to ask for guidance from a superior.
What if this superior is responsible for hiring and/or firing you?
Could asking for help give the wrong impression?
The unspoken truth of the matter is that this kind of insecure worrying isn’t exclusively shared among those at the beginning of their careers, but no one wants to admit it. Now that we’ve become leaders, we tell ourselves that we don’t need mentoring anymore — we’re the ones with the knowledge and experience to impart to others.
PSA: All the best leaders have mentor, find yours here!
At least when we were at the bottom of the ladder, people expected us to ask questions. Now that we’re well on our way to the top, it can feel even more difficult not just to ask for help but to know how to find a mentor to ask in the first place.
Where Can You Find a Mentor?
Social networking, whether you love it or hate it, is your best friend when it comes to seeking out a mentor. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn are great places for finding a mentor online, as are school and college alumni networks.
Now that we’re well on our way to the top, it can feel even more difficult to ask for help
Though it may seem strange at first to reach out to someone you’ve never met, I’d recommend finding mentors you’re not already friends with, so that the work you do together isn’t affected by your overlapping social lives.
Or perhaps you’re already professionally acquainted with your mentor, having met them at an industry event, a convention or a business dinner. However you find a potential mentor, they will most likely be flattered that you thought of them and will see working with you as an opportunity for them to become a better teacher.
It's a win-win scenario!
How To Get the Most Out of Your Mentor
Once you’ve secured a mentor for yourself, follow these tips to get the most out of that relationship:
1. Communicate Your Goals From Day One
Make sure your mentor knows exactly what you’re looking to learn so that you don’t waste their time, and vice versa. Choose up to three main goals that the two of you can break down together. This will give your mentor a better idea of your entrepreneurship, your aspirations and your mindset.
2. Keep Those Goals Realistic
What’s great about finding a mentor as a leader yourself is that you can empathise easier with their position, so make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on your mentor. This is a partnership, not an opportunity to offload your work onto someone else.
3. Make Sure You Know All About Your Mentor’s Work
Aside from this being a sign of respect and courtesy, knowing their specific areas of expertise can help you to hone your questions and get the most out of your mentor. If you find that they might not be able to help you with everything, don’t hesitate to find a second source of advice.
4. Talk to Your Mentor Regularly
Schedule regular sessions with your mentor like you would with any class, activity or skill course — this is a learning process and needs regular input. Agree with your mentor how often you’d like to meet or call, and for how long. This will help the two of you set boundaries with one another, and ensures that the partnership won’t overwhelm you both.
5. Be Prepared For Each Conversation
Don’t expect to sit back and listen as your mentor delivers lectures. This is a two-way relationship, so it should also be a two-way conversation. It’s fine to take notes if you find a lot of new information coming your way, but make sure you stay engaged in the conversation too. Asking questions or role-playing situations with your mentor is one of the best ways to learn how to put theory into practice.
While these tips are by no means exhaustive, keep them in mind when you first start working with a new mentor so that you can give them the right impression of you as a keen mentee.
Your learning has led to your success so far, but it’s only sustained by your curiosity. Don’t let that wither away. Reach out to a new mentor today.
Madeleine Green is a freelance writer. She graduated from university in 2020 with a degree in education, and her interests include sociology, literature and current affairs. Connect with Madeleine on LinkedIn.