Thursday, December 10, 2015

Finding a mentor--not a piece of cake

A mentor is sort of like a life coach within your company or industry. The person knows the ropes, knows the people, looks out for you and provides advice.

Cassie Weber, Government Executive, No 19, 2015. said she once asked a bunch of journalists if she could be their protege. She sent warm, hand written letters. But these people did not know her, had no interest, and tossed the notes.

So she has some tips:

Be sure someone is isn't already looking out for you. You may not need a formal mentor.

Know the difference between a sponsor and a mentor. A sponsor helps you win promotions, maneuver around people, take the next step. A mentor could even be someone from your past outside of your work world.

Check your network for mentor possibilities. You need good personal chemistry.

Be honest--does the relationship work? What if the person is not, over time, really that supportive--or even goes against you. Trust your gut.

Make sure the relationship is mutual.  Send little notes, clippings that would interest them--and are not just about you.

Maybe you need a posse or group instead of a single mentor. Met, set goals, report back.

Mentor someone else--see what it's like.

Remember, mentors can come at any stage--you don't need to find one for your whole career.

According to Weber, finding a mentor is like love--you need to be open, ready--but can't force it.

I had several mentors, and I mentored. Usually, I found, you fall into it.

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