How to Establish the Best Career Mentor Relationship for Professional Development
Have you ever thought about using a cost effective, long-term strategy that will help take your career, knowledge or professional presence to the next level? There are times that we feel a desire to improve upon ourselves, but a course or a workshop may not be the solution. Your goal may be to improve upon skills that simply need to be honed over time and with experience. This desire to improve in a manner outside of using textbooks or by attending a class could be addressed by seeking a career mentor. If you have concluded this is a great option for you, the next steps would be determining how to find a great career mentor.
In 2002, the month of January was proclaimed National Mentoring Month. Mentoring, in theory, should begin with our youth and can be a life-long means of growth. The concept of mentoring in the career world is to pair up a person that likely has reached a level of success you aspire to obtain. Mentoring is a strategic way of being encouraged to grow, expand experiences and challenge yourself to raise the bar by learning from the person or persons you partner.
There can be challenges to finding a great career mentor. The idea of approaching someone can be intimidating and asking someone you do not already know may be somewhat uncomfortable. Following are a few recommendations on how to overcome these challenges and obtain the mentoring relationship you are seeking.
- Be open-minded to partnering with a mentor that may be outside your current network. Mentors are everywhere and can be sought out in places such as professional organizations, churches, business groups, family members and within the work place. Seeking a person with certain skill-sets or an approachable personality may help identify a possible mentor that can provide the growth you are seeking.
- Decide your specific goals and objectives of a mentorship. Prior to approaching a potential mentor, be able to clearly identify expectations of yourself and the person that will become your career mentor. Be prepared to discuss your expectations and to determine of the potential mentor has the ability to assist in your success.
- Arrange to meet or speak with the potential mentor. Meeting or speaking with the potential mentor should take place in a comfortable setting. Plan for it to be a conversation that could lead to brainstorming about common interests and ways to help each other grow from the experience. It should also be in a setting that allows for confidential details to be discussed.
Once you find a person who agrees to be your mentor make sure you share the same commitment to your expectations. Be clear on the time required and the availability of your mentor. Do not be discouraged if a potential mentor is not able to oblige your request. Be mindful that mentoring requires time and commitment. It would be in your best interest that someone recognizes they cannot commit to a mentorship rather than give a half-hearted effort that will not benefit you in the end.
As an HR professional I have found it to be a significant benefit and good fortune to have two wonderful mentors. They are both high level and high profile HR professionals that are available to me for discussions on any level of complexity. The highlight of my mentor relationships was the opportunity of my two phenomenal mentors to meet, immediately bond and in turn develop a peer relationship.