Throughout our lives, we all hope for someone to look up to, someone who will support us and teach us valuable lessons along the way. And nowhere is this truer than in the business world.
Having someone to guide you through your career – or part of it at least – can be the key to success. And a mentor can be anyone from a senior colleague to a boss or a highly regarded professional in your field.
But if you’ve not had a mentor before, finding the right one can feel daunting, not to mention it might feel formal or strange approaching someone and asking them to mentor you.
However, Irish Parcels have put together this guide to highlight five of the key benefits of having a business mentor before talking you through how to go about finding one.
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So without further ado, here are some of the key benefits of having a mentor:
1. They’ll share their knowledge with you
It can be hugely beneficial to your career to work with someone that has a vast amount of industry knowledge and experience. This is because you can pick their brain when it comes to new projects and ask them about aspects of your role or industry that you find challenging.
Not only this, but they might be able to teach you new skills you didn’t have before, as well as showing you new techniques or ways of approaching your work. This can help you to become an expert in your field whilst also making it much easier for you to complete each task (and, as a result, project) confidently and to the highest standard.
2. They can expand the way you think
As well as teaching you new ways of approaching your work, they can also help you to think beyond the usual conventional ideas and really get creative and out of the box. This is not just great for expanding your skills, but it also pushes you to be innovative, creative and unique.
And don’t worry if you’re a little nervous at first; your mentor will be on hand to tell you what’s acceptable and how far you can and can’t go. That’s the great thing about mentors; they are there to help you break barriers, be innovative and succeed.
3. You can tap into their network
Networking is a very important part of our careers, and it’s something that we should never stop doing. That being said, building up a strong network takes time, and when you have a mentor, you have someone who can introduce you to new people and help you to strengthen your network. This could be particularly useful if you’re in the early stages of your career and have little to no existing network to speak of.
Because it is unlikely that your mentor will stay with you forever, you need to make full use of this opportunity. In most cases, your mentor will be happy to introduce you to their connections and proud to let them know that they’re helping you to progress in your career.
4. You will be exposed to new opportunities and possibilities
Following on from our previous point, having a mentor can open you up to lots of new opportunities. In particular, the vast network and connections expose you to a variety of career paths and possibilities.
They might be able to introduce you to those looking to hire someone just like you. Alternatively, they might be able to get you access to industry events, panels and industry leaders. All of which could lead to a strong network and plenty of opportunities for the future.
5. They’ll help you to reach your full potential
Finally, through their experience, knowledge and guidance, your mentor can help you to realise your full potential. They can help to give you a sense of direction, as well as a listening ear when you’re worried about your career.
They can also help you to set out a plan or to set yourself achievable targets that are best suited to your skillset, all whilst showing you how this will contribute to the bigger picture. And this is exactly what you need if you want to progress in your career.
But how do you go about finding a business mentor?
Now we’ve outlined exactly why you should consider getting yourself a business mentor; it’s time to look at how you can go about finding the right one. There are several steps you can take to make this process easier, and these include:
- Making a spreadsheet that lists the characteristics you’re looking for in a mentor and possibly the names of some potential candidates
- Looking into your existing network, for example, your phonebook, Facebook profile or LinkedIn account, for anyone you think might make a good mentor
- Speaking with friends, family, coworkers and even just casual acquaintances to see if they know anyone who embodies the characteristics you set out earlier
- Doing some research online for influencers in your field, these might be experts, bloggers, speakers or business owners
At this point, you should then be able to start updating your spreadsheet with the names of any potential mentors you’ve found along the way. It can then be a good idea to give these a rating system of those you’d most like to work with and those who you believe you have the most natural connection with.
Once you’ve done this, you can begin reaching out to these people, letting them know that you’d love to have a chat and with them. You might wish to ask them how you can get the job they have or hear more about their experience in the industry; either way, approach them and let them know what you’d like to discuss.
At this stage, you should now be able to set up an initial phone call or meeting to get to know them a bit better and find out if they’re happy to work with you. If you find someone that appears to be a good match for you, ask if you can continue the conversation or whether they would meet with you again to discuss your career and industry further.
Follow the steps correctly, and you should be well on your way to finding and securing the right mentor for you.