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Mentorship: A Relationship That Can Change Your Life


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Having a mentor can help you to grow not only in your career, but create more intentional relationships that will help you to grow personally. Having a mentor is essential in today's challenging business environment. The assistance of a mentor can be invaluable as you go through your professional life as they can aid in goal-setting, skill-building, and extending one's professional sphere of influence.

In this blog, I share what mentoring is, how a mentor can help you, and how to find a mentor. Hopefully you will be inspired to find a mentor or even become a mentor to someone else.

 

WHAT IS MENTORING?


"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself." - Oprah Winfrey

According to the Academy of Management, "when an older, more experienced member of an organization takes a junior colleague “under his or her wing,” aiding in the organizational socialization of the less experienced person and passing along knowledge gained through years of living within the organization, a mentoring relationship is said to exist."

 

WHAT CAN A MENTOR HELP YOU WITH?


A mentor can be a priceless resource for give advice, encouragement and assistance as you go through your professional life. They can also help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and create a strategy for success whether you're looking to build new skills, get a promotion, or change your career.


A mentor is someone who can teach you from their own experience and expertise. As a result of this relationship, you may improve your knowledge, sharpen your abilities, and go forward in your job by doing so. They can also help you to expand your network by introducing you to other professionals in your industry if they know people who you could also benefit from knowing.

 

WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A MENTOR

Michelle R. Ferguson, SVP of Global Business Services for McGraw Hill Financial, was co-founder of their mentoring program. In a Jam Session for the Ellevate women's network, she shares how to find, build and maintain a successful mentor partnership. She said that the best mentor relationships are filled with two-way learning and reciprocation. A mentor can help you with many things, but it's important to choose the right mentor. According to Ferguson, "a mentee is in the driver’s seat and needs to take the lead. That includes scheduling the meetings, coming up with an agenda and being specific about the goals. A mentorship is a two-way exchange. It’s a way to trade best practice ideas and experiences." Although mentoring can be a powerful relationship, it can also be a not so rewarding experience if you choose the wrong mentor, such as your manager. It's difficult to be extremely open and honest with your manager about certain challenges you may be facing with work, especially when part of your challenge may be their management style.

 

HOW CAN I FIND A MENTOR?

There are several paths you might take to identify a potential mentor. You can get recommendations from people you know, such as friends, family, and coworkers. You might also try joining a professional group or enrolling in a mentoring program online.


Choose someone who can actually assist you in reaching your objectives. It might be someone already established in your area, someone whose expertise you seek to acquire, or someone who can introduce you to influential people in your industry.


A good mentor is someone who takes the time to hear you out and then provides constructive criticism. You want to be able to open up to this person about your professional aspirations, struggles, and triumphs.

Encouragement and help are provided. A great mentor is someone who believes in you and cheers you on as you pursue your dreams. You need someone who will encourage you and help you believe in yourself.


If you're not part of a formal program, you can individually seek a mentor. As Kathy Caprino writes in Forbes, "find great mentors through the inspiring people you're already interacting and working with now. They need to be people to whom you have already demonstrated your potential – who know how you think, act, communicate and contribute. And they have to like, trust and believe in you already (why else would they help you?). They also need to believe with absolute certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback..." "...Find your mentors among the people you know who are 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role, or industry, doing what you want to, in the way you want to. Connect with new people who you can help, and who will find it a mutually-rewarding and beneficial experience to support you. If you don’t know of any inspiring people that fit this bill, you need to go out and find them."


HOW CAN I BECOME A MENTOR?


There are several steps you can take to ready yourself to take on the role of mentor. If you do not have a formal program to make yourself available for, share with colleagues that you are interested in being a mentor and informally offer your time. Be sure that you can provide the mentorship a fair amount of your time and effort first. It's crucial to be able to give your mentee the time and focus they require, as mentoring is a two-way street.


Second, think back on your own professional development and consider your strengths and weaknesses. Share some of the wisdom you've gained along your professional journey. A great technique to help your mentee learn and develop is to share your own experiences with them.


Take time to build trust. Mentoring is an ongoing relationship so to effectively guide a mentee to success, you need to invest time in developing a trusting connection with them. However, mentoring can have significant benefits for both you and your mentee.

"The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people." - John C. Maxwell


Finding or becoming a mentor could be the key to advancing your career to the next level. Through mentoring, you can gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach your goals.

 

Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help self-driven professionals to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that allow you to accomplish the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in confidence coaching, book your first coaching session with Brittanni here.



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