In business, as in life in general, there are so many times where we can become stuck in place, simply spinning our wheels and making no progress forward. Not only does this stop growth, it leads directly to complacency. One of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid this is with the help of mentors.
A mentor is simply put – someone who helps us get unstuck, a non-judgmental person who listens with an open mind to help us steer clear of the mistakes they themselves made (and wish they’d had a mentor to help avoid). A mentor helps us accelerate our growth by showing us a clearer path with fewer distractions and obstacles.
People with mentors perform better, advance in their careers faster, and even experience more work-life satisfaction. The problem is often that people don’t know how to find a mentor or establish a relationship.
It is important to first write down your career goals and to list some of the biggest obstacles to achieving them. This will help you decide what type of mentor you should be looking for. Maybe you need to develop new skills, expand your network in a specific sector, or build confidence to have some tough conversations. By first understanding where you want to be, as well as the biggest opportunities and gaps to getting there, you’ll identify how a mentor can truly be helpful to you.
Equipped with your goals and what you need to help achieve them, think through how a mentor can help. Write out the type of mentor that can help you seize your biggest opportunities and/or navigate your challenges. Be specific here. Perhaps you need someone that can help you accomplish a project, make introductions to people at a certain level within a specific industry, or coach you through a tough negotiation. Make sure to also include the “why” – just like companies want potential hires to understand the bigger purpose of their firm, explain why mentoring you will tap into something bigger.
Mentors can be from anywhere. They can be from your LinkedIn network, professional connections, or people you’ve met at conferences. It’s important to remember that while people are certainly busy, being asked to be a mentor is a massive compliment. People might say no, but it will be a positive exchange and you shouldn’t be shy about thinking big and asking, even if you think there is no way the person can find time for you. Let them be the judge of that.
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