There’s one thing uber-successful people all have in common…mentors. And not just one.
When it comes to our careers and work life, everyone needs support and advice. It may be to guide you in your current role, discuss ideas or ways of doing things differently, or talking through a job offer, the value in having mentors to help you out along the way should never be underestimated.
However, it’s often difficult to find people who have the experience and knowledge that you need, and who are willing to spend the time being a mentor. Who should you turn to? And how do you approach them and build a relationship?
We have relied on mentors during every step of building our business and brand, although it wasn’t a walk in the park to find the perfect people.
The process is a little different for everyone, you may work with someone who would make a great mentor, or maybe you admire someone who you’d love to one day learn from, but there are key mentors that everyone should have:
The Short Term Coach
This mentor is probably the easiest for you to uncover. What are your short term goals? Where would you like to be in your career or business in the next one to two years?
Now think of someone who’s already doing it. You’ll want to seek out a mentor who’s you in one year’s time, right now. This type of mentor will bring value when you need advice on the little things.
It’s also worthwhile finding someone who has been at your stage now, so they can relate and help you map out the steps required to get to your one-year goal. If they work within your company, they might be able to give you insider tips on who you should be getting to know and the tasks you should be taking on to help you get to the next stage.
If you work for a large company or you have a wide network in the business, you can usually find this kind of mentor by socialising and getting to know people. If you’re in business, attend networking and industry events, and don’t be afraid to ask!
A simple way to start the relationship is by inviting them for coffee, and finding out more about their current job, how they got there, and any advice they can share. People LOVE to talk about their own success and give advice, so don’t be shy. This is your opportunity to build a long-lasting and beneficial relationship.
The Long Game Mentor
While a short term (let’s say one year) mentor is great for the stepping stone support, it’s also good to have a midterm goal mentor. This would be someone who has more experience, can offer you advice on stepping up, and starting your success trajectory.
This person will be ideal for your three to five-year goals. They are mid to senior level in their organisation, are well-known and respected in their industry. If you have an idea of someone who’s in your dream role, make plans to connect whether through a mutual connection or an email introducing yourself.
Once you’ve confirmed a mentor relationship with this person, you’ll need to make it more formal that your short term goal mentor. Ask them for a meeting or coffee, and treat it almost like an informal interview. Be prepared with questions about their career path and how they got to where they are now.
Then, make firm plans to meet at a regular date and time. This mentor will be busy, so arranging a regular catch up ensures you have time scheduled in their calendar, and also demonstrates you are serious about their advice and guidance.
The Anchor is often the most important mentor of all as they’re the one who is a confidante and a sounding board.
This mentor doesn’t need to necessarily work in your industry and could be a friend or a former colleague. They’re the mentor who is going to give you a boost when you experience challenging times and face uncertainties in life.
They keep your best interests in mind in all areas – career, business, and life – and can be helpful when it comes to setting goals, achieving work-life balance, and not losing sight of your values or self-worth.
By being strategic and identifying a few key mentors to be on your team, you’ll make sure that advice is always available and easily tapped into.
We’d love to know, who are your mentors?