The mentor/mentee relationship is an established part of our culture, from childhood Bigs & Littles programs to university fraternities and sororities. But in the workplace, where it’s arguably the most useful, this relationship can often be difficult to initiate and maintain.
Of course, the first step in establishing a productive business mentorship is locating your mentor. Here are a few tips that will help you find a mentor that’s a good fit for your personality and professional goals.
Let It Happen Naturally
We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t be proactive; we are saying that you should actively put yourself in situations that will allow you to find a mentor. Whether that means attending company functions or industry events and workshops, you have to be in the right environment to facilitate professional mentorships.
That being said, don’t try to force anything. When you meet the right mentor, allow the relationship to develop organically. If your personalities and interests match, you will naturally form a symbiotic partnership that is beneficial to you both.
Keep an Open Mind
If you’ve got a mental image of who your mentor might be, get rid of it. More often than not, you’ll be surprised when the right person comes around. They may be a different age, gender, or personality type, or even in a different industry than you initially planned. Having expectations may cause you to overlook the perfect mentor when that person finally arrives.
The relationship itself also may not go exactly as you planned. If it’s more or less hands-on than you anticipated, or geared towards a different aspect of your professional career, embrace those differences. They may lead you to new, unexpected places that can round out your experience and skillset.
While staying open and flexible, you should know what you want to get out of a mentor/mentee relationship. Whether that’s improving your skills, expanding your network, or simply establishing a support system, clarify these goals ahead of time. This will help your mentor understand how best to guide you, and give you a sense of direction as you gain experience.
Your mentor may also have something they would like to achieve as a result of your relationship. Be sensitive to their needs as well, and keep in mind that their goals may actually help you too. By working together, you can both benefit.
The process of looking for the right person can seem daunting, but if you approach it as an organic, open arrangement, finding your mentor may be easier than you think.
Where did you find your mentor? Share your tips and advice with those of us who are still looking.