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Feb14

Finding and Working with Mentors


Are you struggling to find your focus within your field?  Having trouble determining how to best move up the corporate ladder within your organization?  No matter what your unique needs are, a business mentor may be able to help!

A mentor is someone who’s more experienced, more knowledgeable and willing to work with you on a professional level. These trusted advisors can become a guiding force in your business life, taking you from entry level to executive, while watching your career grow and offering both encouragement and advice.

Truly, the connection you have with your mentor is one of the most rewarding relationships you can nurture. A mentor can teach you the little things in business that would take years to learn on your own, saving time that would otherwise be spent toiling away on low-reward projects. They can also connect you professionally with their colleagues, impart huge lessons about how your sphere of the business world works, and improve your overall understanding of business life in general.

How to Find a Mentor

As an adult in the business world, it can be difficult to find a mentor. You can volunteer in your community while looking for someone more experienced, with shared interests in your field – but if you’re doing this on your days off, this doesn’t leave you much time to find the right person to help guide your life and business. Instead, two better options are to ask friends to put the word out for you or to post online about your search for a mentor.

Finding a business mentor can happen in many different ways, but being proactive is a must. You can’t simply wait around hoping for someone to take interest in you, because that rarely happens. Instead, you need to prove that you’re worth potential mentors’ time by showing them the best of what you’re working on, asking for comments and then striking up a relationship.

For best results, look for someone who is open to others and who has achieved the things you’d like to accomplish in your own career. As an example, that management-level person who always smiles at you during your first break of the day might be just the right candidate for your mentorship needs.

When courting a mentor, always be professional and do your best to display your strengths. Don’t forget to bulk up your social profiles and online presence, as your potential mentors will likely search for you online right away.

If possible, connect with potential mentors over these networks, but don’t harass them. If you run your own business or work online, social networks may be the only way to talk to your mentor.  In these cases, always be polite and try to set up times to talk in advance so as to not monopolize their time. If you live in the same area, try to make a date; it’s refreshing in our high-tech world to see someone out and about in “real life.”

Working With Your Mentor

To work effectively with a mentor, you must keep an open mind. Often, mentors got to where they are today because they didn’t follow the prescribed path that conventional wisdom tells you to go down. Listen to them. Your mentor may be a wealth of alternative avenues that you can choose whether or not to follow. Even if your mentors’ advice doesn’t make sense now, their lessons may become clear to you further down the line.

If your mentor is a part of your company, he or she will be able to work side-by-side with you – so don’t get upset if your personal space is hampered. It’s important to see how your mentor functions and to apply the lessons you learn to your own career. This is the best way to learn from a mentor. If you connect with your mentor online, this won’t be as much of an issue – but you do need to be receptive. If you always have an away message up, change that habit right away to facilitate your new relationship.

Many businesses recognize that mentorship is an amazing resource for their employees, even going so far as to institute formal mentorship programs that eliminate the need for younger employees to find their own mentors. These mentors can be used to make the onboarding process more manageable and to foster a sense of caring within the company.

No matter how you approach the process, keep in mind that a mentorship is an important relationship for any young business-person to cultivate. Don’t underestimate the power of knowing somebody with more experience in your field – they can address problems that you didn’t even know were holding you back and can provide valuable connections that would take you years to earn on your own.

If you’re on the fence about mentorship, it’s time to get off – find a mentor and start learning today.

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