Finding your mentor in five simple steps
Aaron Hurst is CEO of Imperative, a technology company for recruiting and developing purpose-oriented employees, and is the author of The Purpose Economy, a manifesto for the next phase of the global economy. Find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Mentoring is a powerful and necessary part of a meaningful career, as it fuels all three sources of fulfillment we need: relationships, making an impact and growing as people. I have been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in my career, and hope to have helped some people as a mentor myself.
In another article, I explored four types of mentors and the value each brings at specific moments in your career. Many of you followed up, excited to find a mentor but wondering how to get started.
Great question! Here are our five steps:
1. Define your need
Do you need a mentor to explore different career paths, provide emotional support during a tough time, be an advocate, or help you with a transition? It is important to be clear on this need so you can build a focused relationship and set expectations for yourself. (For more on needs, see my previous article.)
2. Know yourself
Mentors help us build self-awareness, but you need to first spend some time reflecting on who you are and what you need to be fulfilled at work. Talking about what fulfills you at work will impress your mentor-to-be and inspire them to help you. (Imperative offers a free purpose assessment to help you prepare for your first meeting with a potential mentor.)
3. Look within your network
Your next mentor is likely someone you already know. Use LinkedIn, your company directory, or personal contacts, and consider who you would most want to talk to given the type of mentoring you need. Look for three people already in your network who might fit, and offer to buy them coffee.
4. Position the ask
Bluntly asking someone to mentor you might scare them off, as it can sound like a major commitment. Instead, begin by looking for advice, or even an informational interview. You might find that the first meeting is all you need.
5. Follow up
The best way to build an ongoing relationship as a mentee is to follow up with your mentor. Send them a regular updates on your progress. Showing mentors the real impact of their advice and support is the most powerful way to say thank you.
And once you’ve secured a mentor, there’s no better way to honor the support you’ve received than by making room to advise others. Make it a point to ask, “How can I help you?” This question can open the door for your colleagues, teammates, or direct reports to see you as a possible mentor in their own career.
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