No matter how many years of school you attended, or what level of expertise you can currently boast, our best career education often comes from a superior who is willing to take us under his or her wing. The most successful leaders know this already, and will gladly credit their own mentors for the leaps and bounds they have made over the years. But how does one get so lucky as to find a mentor willing to provide that guidance? Well, sometimes it isn’t about luck – it is about taking your future into your own hands and seeking out the mentor who can help you become the person you eventually hope to be in your career.
Pay Attention: Choosing a mentor isn’t as simple as closing your eyes and pointing to names on your company’s leadership roster. Successful mentorships pair up people with similar goals and aspirations. Which means that you should first ask yourself where you hope to be in 10 years, and then seek out mentors who are already there.
Approach with Sincerity: It is a flattering thing to be approached about mentoring another person, but only if that approach reflects sincerity in the selection and a humbleness that indicates a desire to learn. Be sure to schedule a meeting with your prospective mentor, understanding that this isn’t a conversation you should simply try to engage in over a coffee break. Compile facts about his or her career that you can point to as your inspiration for wanting them as your mentor, and be prepared to answer questions about what you hope to gain from a mentorship, as well as the ways in which you are hopeful they may also benefit from the relationship.
Prove Your Commitment: Remember that in most cases, a workplace mentor is helping you solely out of the kindness of his or her heart. They aren’t being paid more for taking you under their wing, and they are often sacrificing (at least in terms of their time) to guide you through your own career decisions. So treat that time with respect, and don’t take for granted all that they are offering you. Show up to meetings as planned and follow through on suggestions they may make for improving your career advancement possibilities. Remember, you sought them out as your mentor for a reason, so give them the respect of truly paying attention to what they have to say.