A good resource is a mentor, or

A mentor can help a person advance in their career and give them advice when they are in difficult situations. Watch this lesson to learn how to find a mentor and how to nurture that relationship over time.

Mentor

Tully wants to be the CEO of a big company one day. He just finished college, so he’s starting out in an entry-level sales position.

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How can he go from being a brand new guy on the sales floor to running a Fortune 500 company?There are many different ways that Tully can go from where he is today to where he wants to be, and there are many decisions that he will have to make along the way. For example, how can he impress his bosses and make them believe that he is promotion-worthy? What skills should he be honing to make him a good future CEO? The questions are endless. Where can Tully get answers?A good resource is a mentor, or a trusted advisor. Mentors are generally people who are in a position similar to the one that you want. For example, Tully might seek out a CEO to be his mentor since that’s the position he wants.

Mentors offer advice, inspiration, and a chance to network, among other things. All of Tully’s questions about how to impress his bosses and what skills he should be honing can be answered by a good mentor.Let’s look closer at how Tully can find a mentor and nurture the relationship so that it is a long-term one.

Finding One

Tully needs a mentor to give him advice and help him figure out how to go from entry-level sales to the corner office. But how can he even begin? Where does one find a mentor?First, Tully needs to figure out wants and needs. What does he want from a mentor? What does he need? Mentor-mentee relationships can be very formal and highly structured or they can be informal and unstructured. For example, Tully could find a mentor who meets with him once a month or he could find one who is just there when Tully needs to talk.

Knowing what he wants from a mentorship is an important first step in finding a mentor.When he knows what he wants, Tully should look within and outside the company where he works. A mentor should not be his immediate boss, because Tully should feel comfortable coming to the mentor with issues he’s having at work. But the mentor could be someone in another department, or it could be someone in a different company.Tully can find a mentor through networking or through organizations that offer formal mentorship programs. For example, his college offers an alumni mentorship program that he can participate in.

Alternatively, Tully could find a mentor when he talks to someone at a conference. He could even find one through networking online via social media sites.Next, Tully should ask for help from the mentor. In a formal mentorship, this help is often expressed in terms of ‘Will you be my mentor?’ But more often, Tully will want to start with a small request for a piece of advice and then build the relationship.

He might want to approach someone he admires and say something like, ‘I really admire you and would love to be where you are one day. I was wondering if you could give me some quick advice about this situation I’m facing at work.’The advice Tully asks for could be some issue he’s having at work or it could be something like what skills he should build to make himself better at his job and ready for the promotion he eventually wants to get.

Nurturing the Relationship

Once he gets that piece of advice, Tully can continue to build that relationship. Even if Tully starts in a formal setting where he asks, ‘Will you be my mentor?’, nurturing the relationship is a major part of a mentorship.

It is generally up to the mentee to reach out and ask for what he needs, so Tully needs to be able to build on his relationship with his new mentor to make it a long-term one.But how, exactly, can Tully do that? How can he go from asking for a piece of advice to having a mentor for years down the road? There are many, many ways to nurture a mentor relationship, but there are two things that are vitally important in all mentor-mentee relationships.1.) Offer appreciation. Tully’s mentor is offering him wisdom, advice, and many other benefits.

What can Tully offer in return? Appreciation. Many people are mentors because it feels good to help others and to spread their wisdom. But it doesn’t feel good to do that if the person comes across as ungrateful.A simple ‘thank you’ is often sufficient, but if Tully really wants to nurture the relationship, he should consider writing a hand-written thank you note when the mentor offers more than a few minutes of his or her time. A thank you card goes a long way to making a person feel appreciated, and that makes them want to continue helping out.

2.) Continue contact. When Tully asks for advice, what happens next? Does he run away and disappear for long periods of time? Or does he check in with his mentor and say, ‘Hey, thanks to your advice, such-and-such happened.’Continued contact is a major part of building any relationship, including a mentor-mentee one. After Tully takes the mentor’s advice on something, he should always follow up to let the mentor know how it went.But he should also just check in from time to time just because. If he sees an article that the mentor might be interested in, Tully can email and say, ‘I thought you might like this.

‘ He could offer to buy coffee and catch up if it’s been a while since he’s seen the mentor. Continuing contact in these small ways ensures that the relationship builds over time.

Lesson Summary

A mentor is an advisor who can offer advice, inspiration, and other benefits. To find a mentor, a person should figure out wants and needs, look within and outside the company, and ask for help. Once a mentor relationship is established, it should be nurtured through offering appreciation and continuing contact.

Learning Outcomes

You should have the ability to do the following after this lesson:

  • Describe what a mentor is
  • Identify ways to find a mentor
  • Explain how to nurture the mentor-mentee relationship
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