What do Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have in common besides Facebook? Mentors. In the early days of Facebook, Don Graham, CEO of the Washington Post, guided Zuckerberg on how CEOs behave. While Sandberg stated during an interview with HBR that being mentored by Larry Summers helped tremendously.
Clearly, having a mentor is a great idea. Specifically, a mentor can:
- Point you towards the right networks and help drive your professional growth
- Share their challenges and successes to serve as shortcuts to success for their mentees.
- Give you constructive feedback, support, and encouragement
While mentors are great, it is important to pick the right mentor and here are three things to note.
- Know What You Need
A clear and detailed understanding of your current needs is the most basic indicator needed to choose the right mentor. So, take time to find out what is currently important to you, short and long-term goals, what kind of guidance you need and how a specific person can help you. This information should guide your selection process. For instance, if you need someone with ten years experience in your field and you find someone with two, you know that’s not your person.
Also, don’t seek a mentor who is your clone. The aim of getting a mentor is to grow not.
- Look Out For Values
It’s important to ensure your values align with that of the person you are considering as a potential mentor. Identifying the values you respect can serve as the perfect litmus test for evaluating potential mentors. How can you find out a prospective mentor’s value? You can start by reading their views on trends in your field, politics or social issues. Also, if possible, you can have a conversation with them regarding things that are important to you. When you find someone who shares your values and is where you want to be, reach out to them.
- Seek Who You Need
Please do not seek popularity and shinny accolades when choosing mentors. The mentor you need may be right beside you, younger than you, not have huge followers on social media and not have many newspapers and TV features. Unfortunately, these people may be busy and not really have time to provide you with what you need to succeed. Evaluate your network to find mentors that can help you drive your goal before looking outside. Please avoid asking current instructors or direct supervisors for mentorship because you and your mentor may have to deal with some delicate or confidential information about may be a competitive company you are building or applying to for a new job.
- Mentoring Is A Symbiotic Relationship
Your mentor is not a parent and having a mentor is not a right, therefore, be willing to give value to your mentor as you take from them. Asking common knowledge questions should be avoided and deferred to google and do not miss scheduled appointments as this is a huge turn-off.
- Not Everybody Will Say Yes
When a mentor you hope to work with says that he or she does not have the time or resources to mentor you, don’t be sad. Instead, convey your appreciation and request for a recommendation. If you get no recommendation and have a limited network, consider searching for a mentor on the following platforms.
- Drive The Mentorship Agenda
Over-using your mentors and spamming them with unnecessary information may make you become a burden. Have a consultation schedule and prepare progress reports to submit prior to each consultation. This gives your mentor the idea of your growth and allow them to prepare the right advice for you. A mentor may need to search for answers to your questions from their networks, therefore providing progress report ahead of conversations is key.
ARE YOU SEEKING A MENTOR? HERE ARE A FEW MENTORING APP | PROGRAMS
· Mogul offers personalized mentorship in the form of a 24/7 digital advice hotline.
· iMentor is student-inclined mentorship program where students meet with mentors one on one, online or in person.
· MentorNet provides STEM students in the United States with mentorship.
· STEMHub Foundation offers a mentee-driven one-to-one mentoring program that strategically pairs mentees and mentors based on career progression needs, and long term career goals.
Having a mentor is a great way to launch or grow in your career and entrepreneurial journey and expand your network. To make sure the relationship works for you and your mentor, know what you need, look out for values, be ready to add value and use third party platform if you need to.
Do you have a mentor? Share with us what your experience has been like.
Written by Victor Abati
Edited by Adebisi Adebusi and Adeola Olubamiji