A young professional asks: 'How do I find a mentor?'
Saturday, March 23, 2013
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
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,
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.
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.
More Ask the Coach blogs