Finding Mentors and Support in Your Field

A mentor-mentee relationship is built on mutual trust and respect

2/16/2017 9:00:00 AM
Finding Mentors and Support in Your Field

Whether you are just starting your professional life or are knee-deep in your field and looking for a way to further your success, looking to a mentor for help can be the answer.

Why find a mentor in your field

Since the goal of the mentor-mentee relationship is to grow your knowledge in your own field, it’s important to choose someone who has more experience and knowledge in the same area of expertise.

A June 2012 article in U.S. News Money by contributor Lindsay Olsen suggests that you should look for someone who has had a career path similar to the one you aspire to, especially if you are just starting out in your professional life. This person acts as an advisor in your field and can help you make decisions to better shape your career.

Working with a mentor is a great way to boost a job search, further your career path or just bolster your current work life. Since this person is experienced in the same industry, a mentor can guide you and make recommendations on how to improve your performance in your field.

Ultimately, they can help you succeed professionally because they have already walked the path you’re moving toward. This level of experience is key to making the most of opportunities and persevering through adversity.

Building relationships that become mentor-mentee focused

“Some companies have formal mentor programs, designed to help you achieve specific goals. If your company doesn’t have such a program, create your own. At networking events, look for seasoned professionals who take an interest in you. Search LinkedIn for qualified professionals with similar interests, group affiliations, and career paths,” writes Olsen.

Great mentor relationships are not found; they are forged. Asking a stranger to be your mentor, even if he or she is the most successful professional in your field, will not help you. Instead, a relationship must be built first between you and this person, and the mentorship falls into place as an obvious next step.

In a September 2014 article in Forbes, contributor Kathy Caprino suggests you look for a mentor in your existing work relationships; someone who already knows how you communicate, think and contribute; and who respects and trusts you. This person should also believe in your potential before you approach him or her to be a mentor, and should expect you to listen to feedback and heed advice.

The next step once you have found someone, Olsen adds, is to start building a relationship. Whether that means going out for coffee or lunch, or exchanging emails over a topic of shared interest, spend the time to get to know this person. You will not only make sure the mentor-mentee relationship is a good fit for both parties, but you’ll also become comfortable enough with this person to ask for advice and guidance.

Olsen also advises that you make sure you know what you are looking for in a mentor, and try to show your own value as a mentee. As you are asking this person for a favor — spending time to help you — you want to prove you are worth the time investment.

To be a mentee, you must also recognize that you do not know everything in your field, and you will need to be open, flexible and respectful toward your mentor when he or she gives you feedback to further your knowledge.

“Working with a mentor can help you develop professionally and forge new relationships that can move you on your way. Take your mentor’s advice, even if you find it difficult to swallow. After all, that is why you sought a mentor in the first place,” says Olsen.

Published by North Shore Bank. Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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