Need some help setting and achieving career goals? Don’t know how to handle a toxic co-worker? This is a job for… a professional mentor.
“You’re never too young or too old for a mentor.”
To write this post, I reached out to my mentor and asked how our relationship came about.
She made up this story about how I cornered her at the office, and forced her into a mentor/mentee relationship.
Sounds like me, but that’s not what happened.
It was a very organic process. I was a young professional in a corporate environment and she was a seasoned professional with more experience in the same setting. We shared a determination to succeed.
I experience challenges that she’s already faced, and that should be the case with your mentor.
Below are a few steps to help you find a mentor who will help you grow professionally.
1. Attend networking events focused on your interest.
2. Join a professional industry organization in your city.
For instance, if you are a marketer, sign up for the local chapter of the American Marketing Association and attend their regular meetings.
3. Look for a local mentor/mentee program in your city or at your office.
Need a financial mentor, too? Check out The Finance Bar.
4. If you’re a small business owner, consider signing up for SCORE, a free mentorship program provided by the Small Business Administration.
5. Equip yourself with business cards, even if you are unemployed.
Take the initiative and ask to exchange information with other professionals. My editors love Zazzle, because the card designs are elegant, affordable, and easy to customize.
6. Sign up with LinkedIn and fill out your profile completely.
Make connections with professionals you’ve met at networking events, past places of employment, and school.
7. In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg suggests that you never explicitly ask someone to mentor you.
Rather, approach a professional whom you respect and admire and ask a specific, shrewd question whenever you need guidance. Overtime, a relationship will organically manifest.
8. Keep in touch with your mentor by sending articles that are related to his or her professional interests.
9. Whenever someone takes the time to speak with you, follow up with a thank you e-mail.
A few tips to remember…
1. Mentors choose you before you choose them.
2. Always take the initiative to maintain the relationship.
Send a thank you note, a holiday card, or even a Starbucks giftcard on her birthday.
3. Do your best to give as much as you take.
You might be able to offer more than you realize. Are you skilled with websites? Offer to revamp their website.