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How to secure great Mentors for career success

Why do some achieve their career ambitions while others with similar aspirations struggle? In order to be successful in most endeavour and perhaps all pursuits, it is imperative to seek the input and experience of others that have walked similar paths.
A survey of successful leaders in Business show that 75% of executives polled credited their mentors with helping them reach their current position. It is clear from this evidence that mentoring plays a key role in career success, and no matter how successful you might be, there is always something you can learn.
Although it is widely acknowledged that mentoring improves work place equality and employee engagement finding the right mentor can be really hard in particular for Women and Ethnic minorities who are yet to be adequately represented at the more senior level. It has been reported that the recent #Metoo movement have created a backlash where male senior executives are altogether avoiding solo interactions /one to one mentoring relationship with junior women.
Given these challenges but the crucial role that mentoring plays in career success and professional development, it has become more critical for potential mentees to approach mentoring in a more thoughtful manner.
Whether you are seeking Mentors to act as a sounding board in which you can test different perspectives, or you are looking to develop specific skills or even for personal development, the tips here should improve your chances of securing the right mentor.

Do your internal work first – Why do you need a mentor?

You are more likely to get a person to agree to mentor you, if you can be clear about what you need from them as a mentor. Where are you in your career and where do you want to be? What are your strengths, weaknesses and areas of expertise? What skills and experience do you need to develop or acquire to achieve your career objectives?
Evaluation helps you build a picture of where you want to be, which will then propel you to find the right mentor that can help you to achieve your goals.The right mentoring relationship will require some personal investment from the mentor and probably more so from the mentee. So as to get the most out of the mentoring relationship, it is important that you remain open to learning and be willing to accept constructive feedback.
You should develop a curious mind-set that will push you to ask the right questions which will demonstrate genuine interest and a willingness to learn. While mentoring relationships can start anywhere and some of the most successful mentoring relationships develop organically. Getting clarity on why you need a mentor and the outcomes you seek will set you up for a successful mentoring relationship.

Finding the right mentor

Seek out mentors that have skills and experience that you are looking to develop. Look for people that have demonstrated an inclusive leadership style and a commitment to developing themselves and others. It is good practice to have more than one mentor as one person, is unlikely to have all the expertise to fulfill the different mentoring needs that you might have.
Ideally you want to find a mentor among the inspiring and talented people that are in your network. It is a lot easier for you as a mentee to seek out mentors from those that know you, and the value that you contribute. Those that know you are more likely to trust you and more willing to support and help you achieve your mentoring goals. But if you are not able to tap into your existing network, you would have to cast your net wider and be willing to approach those that you admire from a distance but who don’t know you.
You can find potential mentors at industry conferences, networking sessions or even on online platforms such as LinkedIn and Tweeter. It takes a bit of skill to turn strangers to mentors as you have to get on their radar and approach them in a thoughtful and considered manner. The first rule is never to ask for mentorship upfront. But show how you can help and support the potential mentor. Start by following them on tweeter or LinkedIn, tweet out their posts share their updates, offer your unique voice and perspectives, show genuine interest. When you get on the radar of the potential mentor, you can then ask for advice. You must give first before you receive.
Some organisations have made it really easy for mentees to have access to mentors through formal mentoring programmes where mentees are paired with mentors. You should join a mentoring programme as it’s a fantastic opportunity to tap into the knowledge and experience of willing mentors.

Connect and ongoing engagement

When you connect in the right way, most people will accept to have a first chat. The objective of your first interaction / meeting is to build rapport and confirm fit. While you don’t have to start out being best friends with your mentor, but your mentor should be someone that you admire and respect. Compatibility, respect and trust are essential for building a successful mentoring relationship.
You should aim to connect with your mentor as a person and not based on just their role and accomplishments. If the fit is right, you have successfully established a foundation for a successful on-going relationship. Take notes from your initial meeting and commit to putting some of the learning/tips into action and feedback on your progress. This one action will show that you are keen to learn and follow through, and it will definitely encourage the right mentor to offer more support.
Successful Mentor-Mentee relationships are never one way. Mentor-Mentee relationships that are give and take tend to be more beneficial overall than a one-way relationship which can feel transactional and a sure way of terminating a potential relationship.
Studies have shown that mentees that get the most out of mentoring thoughtfully select the right mentor, they proactively work on developing the relationship and have the right attitude that promote learning and growth. Join our mentoring programme today to be mentored by highly rated mentors!