Investing in a career mentor may be an obvious thing to do if you are driven and ambitious and want to rapidly develop your career, but sadly, not enough people take the step of finding someone who can really help them develop professionally. This could be because they don’t know where to find a mentor or feel they do not have the time, however I genuinely feel people are missing out. The reality is that it does take both time and effort to develop a fulfilling and successful relationship with a mentor, however, as I have outlined below, the benefits of this are considerable and can make a real difference in helping you further your career.
One major benefit of having a career mentor is that it can help you stay focused on your objectives and keep on track. We all suffer from distractions, but by expressing and sharing your goals with a mentor you are allowing yourself to be held accountable for achieving those objectives. This added motivation and pressure should therefore enable you to deliver quicker results.
2. Personal Development:
Not only can a good mentor share with you their own personal experience, but they are often able to identify your talents and help you to develop them further. Your mentor should help you grow an extended network, which will also benefit you from a development perspective. Talking through things with people more experienced than yourself can only help you to learn and grow quicker, increasing your knowledge and understanding of the field in which you operate.
3. Career opportunities and progression:
Having a mentor from within your industry is also another great way to find out about new career opportunities. It is highly likely that they will know what is happening within key organisations and this information can help guide you. Not only could this allow you to be aware of a role before it reaches the open market, but they may also be able to provide you with an introduction or recommendation. In addition to accessing more opportunities, your mentor is likely to be able to give you guidance and advice about moving your broader career forward.
A good mentor is likely, over time, to introduce you to more like-minded individuals from their own professional network. This extended network, if managed correctly, should provide valuable connections throughout your career. A good mentor can open doors for you in a number of different ways and in other areas of life as well.
5. Impartial Advice.
The fact that a mentor is independent and not involved directly in any particular situation allows them to provide you with an impartial viewpoint. Whilst you shouldn’t expect your mentor to provide all the answers they should be able to provide you with some “counsel” which will hopefully avoid you making costly mistakes.
6. Developing relevant skills
Having a career mentor, particularly one with skills and experience in your sector, can greatly assist you in developing new skills and experiences quicker. This can only be of benefit in accelerating your development and progression.
7. Real life experience
A very obvious benefit of having a career mentor is learning from their real-life experiences in the field in which you operate. Due to a mentor’s knowledge of you and your sector, their advice and guidance will be very tailored and specific and therefore much more useful than generalist advice available online.
8. Shared success
A mentor is not only someone to provide you with support and advice, but it is also someone to share your successes with. This makes the whole experience rewarding for them as well as for you. This can add further motivation to you and drive you on to even greater success.
MAKING IT WORK WITH YOUR MENTOR
The theory and indeed benefit of having a mentor is obvious, so why don’t more of us have them? One of the main reasons is that making the relationship work is not that easy, especially amongst the other demands on our time. So what do we need to think about to try and make sure it works, not just for us, but of equal importance, for the mentor.
Make the effort
Like any relationship, it takes time and effort to get things going and to foster a strong relationship. In this relationship, although it is two-way, you are likely to be the main benefactor and therefore it is only right that you are seen to be making the appropriate level of effort.
In order for both you and your mentor to gauge and measure the success of the relationship, it is important that you establish goals and objectives and share this with your mentor.
Listen and act
The acting element is a critical factor because any mentor is going to want to see that you are taking on board their advice and doing something with it. If you do this and it works, it is important to give that feedback to your mentor displaying the gratitude they deserve.
Make it formal
It is important for both parties to be very clear about what the expectations are. Although a lot of relationships may start informally as they grow and develop, it is important for both parties to understand the parameters around areas such as frequency of contact and subjects to be covered.
A mentor may have a range of motivations for giving up their time, but it is also worth thinking about what you can give them in return. You might perceive, with significantly less experience, that you have a limited amount to offer, but there will always be certain areas such as Social media etc. where you can share your knowledge and experience.