Want A Mentor To Help Your Career?Posted: 12th of January 2016 by
There is a lot of talk among successful people about how they found a mentor who guided them through the career pitfalls and helped them make a success of themselves. These seemingly selfless mentors would have passed on advice and encouragement to someone just starting out, ensuring that they avoided making mistakes and made the most of their skills as they gained valuable experience. Of course, in some ways an apprenticeship may offer similar guidance, but how do you go about finding a mentor? Surely you can’t just walk up to someone and ask them to help you?
The first thing to do is to see if you already have a mentor who you can turn to. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement at your work or college, as getting constructive feedback and advice is always useful as you make your first steps in your career. Of course an apprenticeship can provide the guidance and support you desire, but what other options are there?
One option is to look for a virtual mentor – someone you admire yet may not know directly. Perhaps you are inspired by the likes of Steve Jobs or Karren Brady? If so, you could do some research, read books about them, and glean any tips or advice that you can.
That said, you may wish to try and find a mentor with a more direct link to what you are doing – which may mean finding someone within your workplace who can guide you. You will want to find someone that you can get along with, someone who may have an affinity with you. Therefore the first step is to look at the people you already know to see if any of them fit the bill. They needn’t be the boss of your company, but just someone with the right experience and know-how to help you along. You can always look for another mentor later. However, don’t try to force the issue, if you find that someone who is greatly qualified doesn’t click with you then they are unlikely to be much use to you as a mentor. A big job title doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will be of use to you as a mentor.
The key is in forging good relationships that you can gain from, but it is not a one-way street. A mentor may need you to show that you can help them too. By being useful to them in some way you will find yourself on a potential mentor’s radar, which is the first step in creating a useful relationship with them. Of course, your mentor, should you find one, has their own work to think of too, so don’t keep pushing them for support.
If you want to try a different approach you could always opt for some mutual support rather than a mentor. If you are in a group with like-minded individuals you can support each-other, setting goals and offering advice and support for areas of weakness.
While it is true that social media can be bad for your health, it can also be great for your career! Use networks like LinkedIn to find people who can assist you in your career. Building up a network of contacts, both online and in person, can help your career advance too.
Finally, you may decide not to have one mentor – but several. Indeed, they may not even realise that they are mentoring you at all. Watching others and seeing what they do well is a good way to learn. Those who lead by example are great to follow, while those who seem to delegate and pass on their work to others may be less so.
You could try several or all of these approaches at once to really boost your career growth, but ultimately it is hard to beat a reliable, trust-worthy relationship with someone who wants to help you get ahead. Just ask the actor, Danny Dyer who found a mentor in the late Harold Pinter – a man who he credits with helping him get his career on track.
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