Mentoring can make a significant difference in your personal life and professional career. Being a mentor is not an easy task; it’s a significant role in helping someone else. However, mentoring is a two-way street: the mentor is typically one to provide guidance and support while the mentee needs to commit and follow-through. In seeking a mentor, I look for someone who is willing to give himself/herself to me, to show strengths and weaknesses, and to be brutally honest when needed. I look for a mentor who has “been there, done that” and can show me the ropes. I’ve learned mentors are not always found in my field or discipline, but may be a veteran of the industry or company.
What do you do if a mentor is not available? And I don’t mean that in an “I’m so smart and everyone else here is dumb so they’ll never teach me anything” way. Maybe the company is are small or remote and a mentor is not available.
I say that’s crazy talk. Mentors are everywhere. Sure, maybe the right one isn’t at your company, but he or she is out there. There are countless resources. Through professional associations. At universities or colleges. In alumnae organizations. Finding a mentor takes commitment to stick to the process.
But do not ask strangers. First, he or she will probably say no because they do not know you. Kathy Caprino talks about how to find a great mentor in her Forbes article. She highlights what one should look for in a mentor:
… 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 absolutely certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback
And if you say, “I don’t know anyone like that” then that’s probably why it’s more important than ever to find a mentor. You have in it you. Expand your horizons, join a few groups and start meeting people. Put your best foot forward because even in the art of trying, you may already be improving yourself.