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A young professional asks: 'How do I find a mentor?'

Saturday, March 23, 2013   (0 Comments)
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Trudy Bourgeois

By Trudy Bourgeois

I’m a young professional in a large consumer products company. I'd like to approach someone with a request to be my mentor. What advice do you have for selecting and approaching a potential mentor?

The first thing that each of us must understand – no matter where we are in our careers – is that choosing a mentor is a personal decision and must always be strategic.

You need to be mindful as to whether or not the person you’re thinking of has a spirit to mentor. Does your potential mentor have a heart for teaching? Does this person have a track record of strong character and morals?

Don't – don’t – simply look at the person’s title. Mentoring must go far wider, deeper and longer than merely a title. This person must be willing to create a partnership with you. This partnership will require transparent communication. Your mentor should have a passion for sharing knowledge (the good, the bad and the ugly).

The person must be interested in investing in you. That will require sharing life experiences and giving candid feedback and advice for avoiding pitfalls. This partnership requires a person with a generous, giving spirit.

To approach a potential mentor, my advice is: Do not go and knock on his or her door. Strategically try to be placed on a task force or special committee – one you know you can add value to – so that you can build a relationship. Build trust. Build a slow connection.

From there, request 15 minutes of one-on-one time every few weeks. After the third or fourth 15-minute session, tell him or her how much you value and appreciate your sessions and time together. At that point, ask if he or she will become your mentor.

Mentoring is a special opportunity for growth. There is one unwritten rule I ask you to think about: Pay it forward. Reach back, turn and lift up someone behind you. It will help you to solidify your learning and the ability to impact another person’s life is priceless.

Trudy Bourgeois is happy to answer your career questions. Please email them to NEW Communications Manager Barbara Grondin Francella.

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for Workforce Excellence and NEW Executive Leaders Forum conference designer. 

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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