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How and why you should find a mentor

How and why you should find a mentor

The importance of mentors is no secret and a very common phenomenon. A mentor’s recent advice comes up as easily as weekend plans at the communal coffee machine and is objectively viewed as critical to a successful career trajectory.
The importance of mentors is no secret and a very common phenomenon. A mentor’s recent advice comes up as easily as weekend plans at the communal coffee machine and is objectively viewed as critical to a successful career trajectory. This idea has been further popularized by famous stories of mentorship like Larry Summers’ impact on Sheryl Sandberg or Maya Angelou’s mentorship of Oprah Winfrey.
After analyzing the relationships I have with my own mentors, talking with friends, colleagues, family members and consulting lots of self-help articles in this arena, some common themes emerged. What’s clear is that, similar to online dating, there are definitely some rules of engagement one must adhere to when securing and engaging a potential mentor. Here are some helpful tips:

First, know what you want:


Identify a clear goal that you have for yourself - this could be a desire to get to a specific role, learning more about an alternate industry, solving a specific problem you are dealing with etc. This will help you hone in on the type of mentor you are looking for in a strategic way.

Be targeted


Don’t reach out to people JUST because they are senior or have made a name for themselves. Connecting with people just for the sake of their celebrity won’t get your very far. However, if you have a clear ask, a clear reason to connect, and a contact in common, you are likely to successfully find someone willing to at least have a conversation.

Get personal


When reaching out to a potential mentor, do include personal and professional information about yourself. In addition to outlining the connection (friend, colleague, etc.), and what you’re hoping to get out of this (coffee, a chat etc.), tell them about yourself and show them who you are! You never know, that Varsity tennis experience might be something you have in common!

Don’t expect too much


When reaching out, it’s important to remember that you are the one asking for something and that the mentor is going out of their way to help you. So, make sure that you are accommodating their schedule and making it as easy as possible for them to say ‘yes.’

Don’t be discouraged


If someone doesn’t have the bandwidth or desire to give their time to help, then keep going and don’t take it personal. Mentorship can be mutually rewarding so if this isn’t their cup of team, thank you next.

Network, network, network


Always take time to connect with people, talk to them, and reach out to follow up when you meet someone interesting. You never know when and how your paths may cross again in the future and who could provide you with invaluable advice or inspiration.

Happy hunting!

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