Monday, July 9, 2012

Mentor Hunting [GB] Edition

Finding a mentor is a lot like a job hunt. You can just jump right in and apply (ask someone to be your mentor), or you can follow a few simple steps before that to get better results.

In the rest of this article you’ll find steps to executing a mentor hunt and how they relate to finding a job.

Step 1. Define Your Objective
When you define your objective in a job search it helps you filter your job search and screen employers. If you think of mentors as employers, defining your objective helps you do the same thing when searching for a mentor.

Define your mentor search objective by asking yourself these 3 questions and answering them honestly:

1.      Why do you want a mentor?
Your potential mentors may want to know the answer to this question along with details of your career path thus far, and more importantly, the career you envision for yourself. Be prepared!

2.      What qualities do you want in a mentor?
Have 3-5 must have qualities, but still be open minded; if someone does not completely meet your must haves, but there is trust and chemistry, there may still be a beneficial fit.

3.      What type of mentoring relationship do you want?

Remember your answers; you’ll need them as you get closer to finding a mentor!

Step 2. Polish Your Image
If you think of a mentor as an employer, then you know they have their own set of qualifications you need to pass. A prospective mentor may not place want ads, but there are qualities a mentee should possess or develop in order to be taken seriously. If you are truly passionate about achieving your objective, these qualities should already be something you possess.

Your online image should be consistent with your offline image
Commitment. The reason many people seek mentors is because they have a career goal they want to achieve. In return for a mentors time and guidance, a mentee can at least be committed to their own cause. This means showing initiative and follow through.

Receptiveness. A mentor is someone who offers knowledge, feedback, and information; whether it be positive or negative, a mentee should be ready to receive it, process it, and improve from it. Someone who is ready for a mentor understands that they will not always hear favorable feedback, but it will help just the same (if not more).

Desire to learn. Mentorship is about growth and in order to grow you must be willing to learn. A serious mentor admires a thirst for knowledge.

Your goal now as a mentee is to present a consistent on and offline image that projects these qualities as well as your personality. Clean up your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and adjust how you use them. LinkedIn is great for professional networking, but most people don’t use it enough; Facebook is also great for professional networking, but most [young] people don’t know how to approach it.

In addition, be conscious of (so you can improve) your netiquette and interpersonal interactions. Learn how to communicate effectively — good communication will be an asset during your mentor search and throughout your mentoring relationship.

Step 3. Prospect
DO NOT overlook step 2; potential mentors will notice your lack of effort in presenting a professional image. While you can polish your image in conjunction with prospecting, it’s best to get a handle on your image first.
Prospect online to discover who you want to seek out in person!

Unlike job searching where there are many websites and company pages dedicated to want ads, finding potential mentors is not as straightforward. Some large corporations, schools, and social organizations offer mentor programs, but good ones are rare. Doing the footwork yourself is the best option; all it takes is diligent networking!

Network by following and interacting in groups getting to know the people in them AND letting them get to know you. Attending networking events, interacting online, and meeting for one on one networking are great ways to prospect and work best when you do all three! Try meeting with people you’re interested in for one on one networking before deciding to officially move on to the final step. The entire process can be conducted entirely online, but if you’re able to take your networking offline, seize the opportunity.

It may seem like a lot, but once you get into it, you might find that you enjoy the process!

Step 4. Ask
Try to have a one on one meeting before you ask someone to be your mentor and be certain of these 3 things:

1.      You’re prepared to discuss your answers from Step 1

2.      You’re comfortable speaking to this person, and

3.      This person is someone you aspire to be like in some way, shape, or form

Once you’re certain of these things, ASK. If you ask in person (or over the phone), be prepared to answer any questions upfront. If you send a message later, schedule a live follow up meeting, in which case, still be prepared to answer any questions.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

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