Daily Archives: June 16, 2011

Mentor Up: How to Pick the Right Mentor


Whether you’ve been working for several years or are just preparing to enter the career world, traveling the path alone can be risky and hard. Surrounding yourself with people who can directly and positively impact your career is one of the key steps to take in any employment opportunity. Research shows protégés report more promotions, higher incomes, higher job and career satisfaction, and greater job involvement and commitment to a company than those not being mentored. Considering the benefits of having a mentor, the next question is how to get one. But, before asking someone to be your mentor, you need to know what to look for. So, here are some important aspects to consider in your quest for a great mentor.

Finding the right mentor.
A mentor is meant to challenge you. Do some research and find high-level managers or peers with more work experience than you. These individuals should be successful in their field, highly respected, and an all-around positive role model. Although it may be intimidating to approach such an esteemed and experienced professional, it’s important to surround yourself with people who have more knowledge than you do. The purpose of a mentor is to teach, counsel, and guide you to intelligent and beneficial career moves. Find someone who can help do just that.

Asking to be mentored.
Obviously, when selecting someone as your mentor, you need to ask them first. Begin by sharing with your potential mentor how they’ve already impacted your career, how you respect them, and why you want to learn from them. The more interest you take in a potential mentor, the more likely they will be to return the favor. However, you aren’t just asking them to guide you – you are asking for a major commitment. Make sure your mentors are willing to share their skills, knowledge, and expertise with you. Select people who seem to take a personal interest in helping you succeed rather than people who will toss you aside when their schedule gets hectic.

Having multiple mentors.
Because you’ll be choosing mentors for different qualities that put them at the top of their field, choose several. Leaders, although they may tell you different, have very little spare time to devote to full-time mentorship. Consider looking for someone in your own department, someone in another department of your company, someone in your field but with a different company, or someone that leads a charity organization you’re involved in. Having diversity in your mentors will provide you with relevant, yet different, opinions. Consider your group of mentors as your very own board of advisers.

Giving back.
Finally, remember that people don’t mentor just to be friendly. Mentoring can take a considerable amount of time, energy, and effort. Ask your mentor what you can do to help them. For some, simply seeing your appreciation and loyalty may be enough. For others, they may want to see you volunteer your time to mentor someone too. What’s most important is showing the initiative to give back to the mentor rather than simply taking from the relationship.

Moving up in an organization is increasingly challenging, however, having the right mentors by your side can help you climb the corporate ladder to success. Surround yourself with the highest quality people to create your own network of professionals.