Throughout life, mentors provide support and valuable lessons. Nowhere is this truer than in the business world.
Having someone to guide you through your career — or part of it, at least — can be the key to success. A mentor can be anyone from a senior colleague to a boss to a highly regarded professional in your field.
But if you’ve not had a mentor before, finding the right one can feel daunting, not to mention it might feel formal or strange approaching someone and asking them to mentor you.
Here are five key benefits of having a business mentor and how to go about finding one.
1. They’ll share their knowledge with you.
It can be hugely beneficial to your career to work with someone who has a vast amount of industry knowledge and experience. This is because you can pick their brain when it comes to new projects and ask them about aspects of your role or industry that you find challenging.
Not only this, but they might be able to teach you skills, techniques or new ways of approaching your work. This can help you become an expert in your field while also making it much easier for you to complete each task (and, as a result, project) confidently and to the highest standard.
2. They can expand the way you think.
Mentors can also help you to think beyond the usual conventional ideas and really get creative and think out of the box. This not only helps expand your skills, but it also pushes you to be innovative and unique.
And don’t worry if you’re a little nervous at first; your mentor will be on hand to tell you what’s acceptable and how far you can and can’t go. That’s the great thing about mentors; they are there to help you break barriers, be innovative and succeed.
3. You can tap into their network.
Networking is a very important part of our careers, and it’s something that we should never stop doing. Building up a strong network takes time, and when you have a mentor, you have someone who can introduce you to new people and help you strengthen your own network. This could be particularly useful if you’re in the early stages of your career.
Make full use of this opportunity. In most cases, your mentor will be happy to introduce you to their connections and proud to let them know that they’re helping you to progress in your career.
4. You will be exposed to new opportunities and possibilities.
Expanding on our previous point, having a mentor can open you up to lots of new opportunities. In particular, the vast network and connections expose you to a variety of career paths and possibilities.
A mentor might be able to introduce you to those looking to hire someone just like you. Alternatively, they might be able to get you access to industry events, panels and industry leaders, which could lead to a strong network and plenty of opportunities.
5. They’ll help you to reach your full potential.
Finally, through their experience, knowledge and guidance, your mentor can help you realize your full potential. They can help to give you a sense of direction, as well as a listening ear when you’re worried about your career.
They can also help you to set out a plan or to set yourself achievable targets that are best suited to your skill set, all while showing you how this will contribute to the bigger picture. This is exactly what you need if you want to progress in your career.
So how do you go about finding a business mentor?
Now that we’ve outlined why you should get yourself a business mentor, it’s time to look at how you can go about finding the right one. There are several steps you can take to make this process easier, and these include:
- Making a spreadsheet that lists the characteristics you’re looking for in a mentor and possibly the names of some potential candidates.
- Looking into your existing network, for example, your phone contacts, Facebook profile or LinkedIn account, for anyone you think might make a good mentor.
- Speaking with friends, family, coworkers and even just casual acquaintances to see if they know anyone who embodies the characteristics you set out earlier.
- Doing research online for influencers in your field. These might be experts, bloggers, speakers or business owners.
At this point, you should then be able to start updating your spreadsheet with the names of any potential mentors you’ve found along the way. It can then be a good idea to rate them according to those you’d most like to work with and those who you believe you have the most natural connection with.
Once you’ve done this, you can begin reaching out to these people, letting them know that you’d love to have a chat with them. You might ask them how you can get the job they have or hear more about their experiences in the industry; either way, approach them and let them know what you’d like to discuss.
At this stage, you should now be able to set up an initial phone call or meeting to get to know them a bit better and find out if it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. If you find someone who appears to be a good match for you, ask if you can continue the conversation or meet again to discuss your career and industry further.