Will You be my Mentor?

Skyeteam leadership Development

In an article, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has said you cannot just ask somebody you admire to be your mentor, you must establish a two-way relationship first. I have to agree with her advice.

A mentoring relationship needs both a foundation of trust, and to provide something of value for both participants—the mentor and the mentee.  Without an initial relationship it is much harder to cold-call on a potential mentor.

If an initial relationship is so important, how do you go about finding a mentor?  Here are three suggestions for finding the right mentor for you that avoids the cold-call conundrum.

Look close to home.  Identify those people within your current organization that you know and respect. Check to see if your company offers a mentoring program and how you can get involved.  Consider being a mentor for others.

Look at your immediate network. Ask colleagues and those around you for recommendations and potential introductions. Review your LinkedIn network and send a personal message to those you think might make for a good mentor.

Check professional organizations.  My team and I partner with the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications, facilitating a powerful six-month mentoring program.  Its program each year and is open to members and non-members of WICT (you join WICT if you join the mentoring program).  The professional organization relevant to your industry or career path may provide a similar program that will introduce you to willing mentors in your area.

Once you have identified a potential mentor I would recommend sitting down and getting to know them—an initial “chemistry meeting” so to speak.  Both you and your mentor need to enjoy talking with each other and be ready to commit time and effort into the mentoring relationship.  In addition to being someone you can respect and learn from, some qualities to look for include:

  • open minded
  • a genuine interest in helping you advance your career
  • experience in an area that interests you
  • time and ability to be available and support your development
  • good listening skills and can challenge and hold you accountable to taking action
  • respected by their peers and others in the organization and industry.

Depending on your personal and professional goals, you may choose to work with more than one mentor, selecting each based on their unique experiences and contributions.

What advice do you have to help others find a suitable mentor?