Many people see the start of a new year as an opportunity for personal growth and development. One such way to do this is through mentorship, which is fitting as January is National Mentor Month. Depending on your goals, you can decide to participate by being a mentor to someone else or by being a mentee. Both of these roles can help you grow in your career, education, or personal life.
If you are looking for a mentor, here are a few helpful hints to guide you:
Understand what you are looking for in a mentor. Mentors are great guides and can help encourage you in many ways, but they are not sponsors and they are not going to solve every problem for you. Usually, a mentor’s role is more to answer your questions and to help guide and encourage you as you navigate new challenges.
Find the right mentor for you. Again, it is crucial to understand what you are looking for in a mentor in order to get to this step. If you’re looking for someone to help mentor you in your career, try looking for someone a few levels ahead of you in work who will have practical and relevant advice and can help introduce you to more people in your field. Try to find someone with a different perspective than yours or who has different experiences from which you can learn.
Reach out to establish your relationship. You will have to pitch the relationship. Know what you want before hand and have your elevator pitch ready. While there is no specifically designated way to establish a mentoring relationship, it helps to have an informal relationship beforehand or to have a mutual acquaintance help with the introduction. Your pitch should include why you’re reaching out to them and why you’re interested in learning from them.
Be a good mentee. Once you’ve established your relationship, be a good mentee! Try to meet consistently, but make sure you are open to feedback and that you heed your mentor’s advice. Also, share your gratitude with your mentor for their assistance. You want your mentor to know that you value them and the relationship that you have.
While being a mentee can seem like a great learning experience, being asked to be a mentor can be intimidating. However, being a good mentor does not have to be a challenge or a scary experience. Rather, the mentor should be able to benefit from the relationship too, not just the mentee. Here are few tips on being a good mentor:
Get to know your mentee. Get to know your mentee well and understand what they want out of the relationship. You can’t mentor someone if you don’t know them or what they want. Make sure you ask why they picked you specifically to be their mentor and that you have a clear idea of how your knowledge and experience can benefit them.
Know yourself. You need to know and understand your own skillset as well and understand how you can share that with your mentee. This includes knowing your own personal successes and failures. Sometimes sharing your mistakes can be just as beneficial because it helps show how you problem solve and overcome challenges. It also helps build trust so that your mentee is not afraid to share their mistakes.
Listen and offer encouragement. A huge part of mentorship is actively listening to your mentee. This helps you to better understand their perspective and in turn enables you to offer better advice. However, make sure that you are also encouraging your mentee and not just providing guidance or instruction. Your support will encourage them to grow and seek out new challenges.
Don’t be afraid to learn from your mentee. Mentorship is a relationship and should be reciprocal. Just because you are acting as a guide or coach does not mean that you can’t learn something from your mentee as well. The mentor and mentee should be sharing the both the good experiences and the bad experiences and supporting each other through any challenges.