The word mentoring in colourful letters on a pin board

Now is the right time to consider finding a mentor

Fulfilling your ambitions can of course take some time and can be viewed as hard work and doing it alone is even harder; but mentoring can be extremely helpful in allowing you to fulfil your career aspirations.

If you have always thought you could benefit from working with a mentor, then there is no better time than now to find one. At a time when some people are facing redundancy or feel they need to ‘stay where they are’ until this crisis passes, we felt it was apt to write a blog on how a mentor can be invaluable when looking to develop your soft skills, understand your strengths, help you map out your future and get to grips with what you may need to do to advance your career.

Working with a mentor who is not a friend or relative can help you view your career more objectively, support you with new developments, and keep you focused on your long-term goals. They can be a great sounding board, encourage and challenge your ideas and connect you with relevant people who can help you get your next promotion or make a move into management.

Whether it is exploring the viability of a new job, managing your team, or improving your leadership skills, a mentor with the right experience and personality can be a genuine asset. But there are benefits in it for them too.

How to find a mentor?

One question people often ask when considering a mentor for themselves is how do you go about finding a mentor and how will you know if they are the right mentor for you?

Essentially it depends on what stage of your career you’re at but finding someone who has been there and done it is the first step – they don’t necessarily have to have done it in the same industry though!

Firstly, look to your network – who do you already know, who might be able to help you, or who do they know who they might be able to introduce you to? From LinkedIn to podcasts, social media to Google, the internet has made it infinitely easier to find people whose work inspires you.

Networking is a great way to meet people, and although it’s different to how it was there is plenty of online networking events that you can join, and these can be a great way to grow your network and identify potential mentors. Don’t be shy get stuck in!

How to choose the right mentor

Ultimately, you should aim to find someone whose personality and skillset complements yours, but who isn’t afraid to challenge you either. Which is why it’s important to do your research and build a relationship first. Here are a few questions you can use to help you choose:

  1. Do they make you feel comfortable and can you trust them to be honest?
  2. Are they open-minded and do they get what you are trying to achieve?
  3. Do they have the relevant experience that can lend itself well to yours?
  4. Can they commit adequate time to mentoring? Mentors often have a busy schedule.
  5. Are they well connected, and do they understand people? (could they help open some doors for you?)
  6. And finally, what is your gut feeling telling you? Can you trust this person implicitly?

Not all mentoring relationships will be successful, but you can vastly improve the chances of things working out by following these tips: 

  • Define your goals in advance.
  • Remember mentoring is a two-way process. Take responsibility for maintaining the relationship and prepare ahead of each session.
  • Decide how, you will work together, software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have in some ways made it easier on people’s time.
  • Be honest and open and take constructive criticism on board – it will stand you in good stead.
  • Respect your mentor: although they often get a lot out of it, mentors should do it for the love of it, not for personal gain. Oh and it’s important to show appreciation.

If you’ve always thought a mentor could help you, then now is the time to start looking for one, working with a mentor can make a significant difference to both your personal and professional development, so the sooner you get started, the better.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you’d like further advice on finding a mentor – ita@sitka.wales.

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