Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finding and Keeping a Mentor

We’ve all heard the phrase “Mentor” and know the importance of having a mentor in your career and in life in general, but how many people can actually say that they have a true mentor that they have developed a long standing relationship with? I believe the struggle in having a mentor is in picking the right mentor to begin with and then finding ways to cultivate the relationship.  We know we should have one, yet the thought of finding one and maintaining the relationship often seems like more work than it really is worth.
In effort to increase your chances of selecting and keeping a mentor I have provided a few quick tips:
1.       Do your research- Before selecting a mentor do your research on what is important to you in your career and research people whom you admire. The person you select doesn’t have to be older than you or wealthier than you, but it must be someone that you admire and respect. When looking for someone to be your mentor look at their professional success as well. Have they had success in their prospective career, are they well respected by others?  Also, please note that they do not have to be in the same field as you. They can be inside your company or outside your company. Lastly, choose someone that will be honest with you about your career and opportunities for growth.
2.       Don’t over use the term “Mentor”- Nobody likes a name dropper, so when selecting a mentor, don’t over use the term “Mentor” this can make them feel uncomfortable, like they have big shoes to fill to provide you the best mentorship possible… which could end up straining the relationship. See them as a career counselor, advice giver, etc and be sure to thank them for their guidance and time. Flattery never hurt anyone. J
3.       Use time wisely- We all know that time is very valuable so make sure to use the time you have with your mentor wisely. You have to make the initiative to have meetings with your mentor, but be sensitive to their schedule as well. Set realistic meeting times and frequency so you don’t overwhelm your mentor. Also, be consistent with your meetings. Follow up on what you have promised, if you stated you want to meet once a month, it is on you to make sure you set up the meeting, not the mentor.
4.        What you put in is what you get out- Have a plan for your desired outcome from meetings with your mentor. Know what you want to discuss and ensure that you are doing what it takes to initiate conversation. If you are looking for guidance in a certain area of your professional development, ask specifically for this guidance. A mentor is not a mind reader nor do they have a crystal ball, so be transparent with communication and know that what you put into the relationship is what you will get out of the relationship.
If interested in other mentorship best practices please email amanda.robbins@mattressfirm.com

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