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Selecting a Mentor

Last week I mentioned the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will make you better, people who will make your vision and mission statement a reality. One of the people I suggested that you get is a mentor. A mentor is someone who has in the same field as you, worked some of the jobs you have worked, and is several steps ahead of where you are and are close to where you want to be. This person can be inside or outside your organization but it is important that they share the same field as you.

A mentor is someone who has made mistakes that you can learn from, played the corporate game, knows the rules and can share them with you, and knows who you can network with to take you to the next level. I mentor is someone who provides advise, challenges you, gives you projects to work on to get better at your craft, and looks to help you in achieving your career goals.

Do you have a mentor? If not, why not? If you don’t have a mentor I suggest looking for someone to fill that role in your life. Look for someone in your organization or field that is in a position that you would like to inhabit. Look for persons who are where you want to go and ask them if they would be willing to be your mentor. This is not something that you just come out and ask though. Finding a mentor is like finding the right partner. You want to make sure that this person challenges in the right ways, speaks the same languages you do, is a good personality fit, and is looking to make you better. The role of a mentor is selfless. You need to find someone who is not trying to further their career by checking a managerial box of mentoring someone. A great way to scope out some potential mentors is at work related functions to include meetings, professional networking events, conferences, and seminars. Talk to them, buy them coffee, get to know them, know their story, before you ask them to be your mentor.

Once you have selected someone who you would like to be your mentor, talk to them about their willingness to mentor you. This is a relationship that will rocket your career to the next level. Once you experience the benefits of being mentored, and you are moving through your career in leaps and bounds, don’t forget to pay back the favor and mentor someone who will be filling your role in the future.

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