You might be at a point in your career where you are feeling struck or need to get an opinion about a work problem from someone objective. While it’s possible to learn the needed skills, this will take time. Instead, what if you had someone (or a group of people) who can help guide you to success?
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who currently is where you want to be. The relationship you have with a mentor can be an official one, or it can be informal such as following in the footsteps of someone you admire. A mentor is usually someone who has experience and have gone through the growing pains towards success. They will be able to offer valuable advice, tips and guidance that will help keep your career on track.
More importantly, a mentor can give you needed feedback that will help with your development and career growth. This kind of advice is invaluable.
How do you go about finding a mentor?
Once you have made the decision to move your career forward, or seek help with a particular job challenge, your next decision is to find someone to guide you. This person could be someone you already know or someone who has been referred to you by a fellow work colleague or through friends or family.
If none of these seem like viable options, use professional networking websites such as Linkedin or if your career has a professional body you can approach them to ask if there are members who would be interested in offering you support
You will want to pick a mentor who has relevant skills and experience in the area you need support or guidance . Make sure you ask lots of questions about what they expect from you and ask what you can expect from them. This expectation is important, especially if you are working with a mentor who has agreed to mentor you in their own time for free. Remember to be respectful of your mentors time, and the commitment they are giving by turning up to meetings on time or giving due notice if you need to cancel and agreed appointment.
Should you pay for a mentor?
Part of your initial conversation with your mentor should be used to determine what arrangements need to be put in place to avoid misconceptions later on. If, as previously mentioned, there is someone who is willing to act in a mentor capacity and they are willing to do this for free, then you may wish to work with this person. On the other hand, paying for someone to help you puts the mentoring relationship on a more formal footing and will ensure both parties remain accountable.
It is important at the start of the mentoring to agree on a clear, process for how the working relation will proceed. Some of the factors for consideration will include, the duration of the mentoring arrangement, how often you will meet and what you want to get out of the mentoring.
Even if you are not yet ready to move your career forward, having a mentor is a great way to ensure you are getting support in your career in a way that helps you plan for the future.