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The importance of mentorship
Being mentored by someone is a lot like applying sunscreen: you can never have too much.
Having a mentor is useful in all stages of life: at work, during your studies, for your start-up business or blog 😉
But what exactly is mentoring?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, a mentor is “an individual who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school.” In short: A mentor is an experienced adviser.
In today’s article, we will discuss the importance of mentorship and how you can find your very own mentor.
Why is finding a mentor important?
A mentor can encourage our professional development and help increase our performance during our studies or in the workplace
The benefits of having a mentor were explored further in 2004, when a survey conducted by Allen TD and all, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14769125 analyzed forty-three studies. In this, Allen compared the various career outcomes of mentored and non-mentored employees.
From this study, it was concluded that mentored employees:
- Receive higher compensation
- Receive a greater number of promotions
- Feel more satisfied with their career. Actually, 75% of executives state that mentoring has been significant in their career development.
Even though having a mentor in the workplace can be very beneficial, finding a mentor in school can be just as important. Not only can mentors share their skills and knowledge, but they can also guide us in terms of career choices.
Mentors can provide us with constructive criticism
Your mentor can highlight areas where you can improve.
Even though receiving criticism isn’t always pleasant, criticism from a mentor can be invaluable. A mentor should be someone who has worked in your company or area of expertise for a long time. As a result, their background makes them knowledgeable, and their critique will be coming from a place of experience. We are more likely to take our mentors’ advice and constructive criticism as we know they’re experienced and trust their judgment.
Additionally, mentors don’t speak from a place of bias. They are not a family member or close friend, so they won’t worry about hurting our feelings; their judgment can be completely objective and impartial.
If you’re looking to progress, feedback is essential. Your mentor will understand this, and you can ask them to challenge you and help expand your knowledge and skills.
Mentors encourage us
Whether we’re at school, in the workplace, or looking to create our own business, one word often arises: Doubt. There will almost always be a moment in our journey where we doubt ourselves. Have I chosen the right bachelor’s degree, the right specialist subject? Will I find a job quickly? Will I achieve my objectives? Do I deserve a promotion? And so on and so forth.
Mentors can play a crucial role in guiding, encouraging, and challenging us throughout our journey, ensuring that we don’t give up. Mentors were often once in the same position as you, so they’ll be able to speak from experience when they encourage and support you in reaching your goals.
A mentor can hold us accountable
Sharing your goals with someone can play a crucial part in our success. If you have someone that can hold you accountable if you don’t hit a target or deadline, you will be more motivated to perform.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that you are 65% more likely to achieve your goal if you have someone to hold you accountable.
Not only this, but if you have a regular ‘accountability appointment’ with the person you’ve expressed your goals to, you can increase your chance of success by up to 95%.
Having your mentor hold you accountable for your goals and targets can be an effective way to make sure you’re reaching your full potential. Ask your mentor if you can hold a weekly, monthly, or even six-monthly review where you can assess your work, progress, and any difficulties you’re facing.
Mentors are important to our network
Your mentor can help with networking. They can introduce you to other like-minded professionals, take you to conferences and networking events. In short, having a mentor can be a great way to make valuable contacts that you otherwise may not have met.
But how do you find a mentor?
You can find your “mentor” through
- An online community
- Conferences (but watch out for conferences that are overpriced)
- Networking events. Check out on websites like meetup or Eventbrite
- School Alumni
- An older student
- Industry meetups
- Volunteering or extra activity
Your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be in your field of expertise. Their experience, viewpoint, and mindset are overall more important than having perfect knowledge in your desired area. Knowledge and experience from one profession can be transferable and applied to many other areas.
If you’ve tried all these possibilities and still can’t find a mentor, you can also find knowledge and advice from qualified professionals through podcasts, books, and online videos.
How do I contact a potential mentor?
Rule number one when contacting a potential mentor: don’t use the word mentor!
If you start an email or conversation with “Do you want to be my mentor?!” It may sound like a lot of responsibility and will potentially discourage your new mentor.
Having a mentor simply means having someone with experience that can help support you through your career or other areas. A mentoring relationship should be flexible and informal.
So, for example, if you regularly interact with an executive at your company or a professor during your studies, express to them how much you appreciate their advice and knowledge. Disclose that you’re looking to progress within your career or education and would be grateful if you could discuss any questions or problems with them in the future.
If you meet a potential mentor at a networking event or conference, ask for their card, contact details, or LinkedIn and get in touch.
Here’s an email sample:
Hello (insert name),
It was great to meet you at (insert event name) and I just wanted to thank you for the discussion we had. I found your advice invaluable, and your career path is clearly very inspiring!
I was wondering if you had any free time this week to continue our discussion? I would love to learn more about your experiences. If it’s easier, feel free to call me on (your number)
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
The relationship between you and your mentor should not be self-interested or one-way.
Of course, a mentor can provide you with some invaluable skills and understanding, but it is a trustworthy relation above all. A mentor should be happy and willing to share their experiences and want to help others progress and evolve.
Don’t contact your mentor only when you need them, instead try and casually keep them updated with your progress, success, and life! And after any bit of advice or guidance, always thank them.
Be sure to return the favor too. You don’t have to do anything big, a small gesture of kindness is a great way to show your gratitude. For example, if your mentor is into technology, send them press articles, videos, and/or books on that subject that you think they’d enjoy.
And as you will grow and progress in your career, never forget the people who once helped you. Always be grateful for any help you received, and if you were lucky enough to have a mentor at the beginning of your career, return the favor and help someone starting out. As Maya Angelou said, “If you get, give. If you learn, teach.”