Whether you are just starting out in your career or are hoping to take the next step forward, having a mentor to help guide you can be incredibly beneficial. Often, a mentor is in a place you ultimately hope to be one day, so learning from their experience can ensure you end up on the right track professionally.
But understanding exactly how a mentor can benefit your career beyond assisting you as you grow your skills isn’t easy unless you’ve had this experience before. To help you get started, here’s what you need to know.
What a Mentor Can Do for You
Mentors can actually serve many roles when it comes to making progress in your field. One of the most beneficial points of having a mentor is they can provide you with guidance, particularly when you end up in a challenging situation. Often, they’ve been in your shoes before, and they managed to make it through a variety of circumstances to get where they are today. So, their experience with tricky situations is incredibly valuable.
Professionals who’ve been in the field for some time are also typically well connected. They are aware of industry events and opportunities with associations that can give you a chance to extend your network and forward your career. Additionally, they know what skills are valuable in similar positions, and this information can guide your professional development activities in the right direction.
A good mentor can also help you assess new job offers or determine whether it’s the right time to request a raise or a promotion. Again, they’ve been in a position similar to yours, so their expertise can make it easier to determine when you should make a move.
How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor
If you’ve identified someone who you believe could be an excellent mentor, you have to ask them to take you under their wing. While this sounds like a nerve-racking experience, it doesn’t have to be.
First, it helps if you develop a bit of a rapport in advance. This can include asking them for advice, requesting information about how they reached their current position, what their current goals are or simply chatting on a regular basis. Not only does this help establish a relationship, it also allows you to better assess each other’s personalities and available time to make sure it’s a great fit.
When it comes time to ask them to be your mentor, try to have the conversation in person whenever possible, preferably in a semi-casual setting and not when they are rushing between meetings or trying to meet a critical deadline. Once you sit down, discuss what attributes they have that you admire and why you think their guidance would be especially beneficial, including details about specific goals or objectives you have in mind for the relationship.
Remember, you are asking them for a favor, so it is wise to frame your tone and approach based on that idea. You want to seem enthusiastic, but also understanding. If they seem engaged in the conversation, feel free to allow the conversation to flow naturally, as this will help you both determine if formalizing the relationship is a wise move.
However, if they seem reluctant, don’t push the issue. Not everyone has the time available to commit to being a mentor, especially if your goals are ambitious. And, if they decline, consider seeking out someone else, but don’t abandon this relationship along the way. Ultimately, they could still be a strong part of your network, and that’s valuable in its own right.
If you are interested in learning more or are seeking a new position, the professionals at The Squires Group can help. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.