Looking for a mentor? Finding one is certainly not a walk in the park, but it shouldn’t be rocket science either. As a provider of CFO advisory services, our team knows when it’s best to get professional help from an outsider’s perspective, so if you’re stuck on just where to look, take a few cues from us.
Let’s start with the obvious (or the not so obvious): a mentor should be someone you admire and look up to, but it shouldn’t be someone you’ve never met.
Sure, we all want to call Bill Gates or Snapchat founder, Evan Spiegel, our right-hand man, but that’s just not realistic. You can begin your search by watching a couple TED talks or reading a few CEO or CIO blogs, but before you start cold-calling these high-powered influencers, put yourself in their shoes: would you want to invest your precious time and energy into someone you don’t even know? I didn’t think so…
While it can be can be difficult to figure out where to look at first, the answer is usually right in front of you.
For starters, assess where you are in your career and where you would like to be. Do you see yourself in your boss’s shoes in a few short years? Are those you are surrounded by at work supported and nurtured?
If you’re in the industry you want to be in and the answers to these questions are a resounding yes, take a look around you. You may find your mentor in the levels above you. These people hired you at the outset because they saw potential. Plus, they already know how you work and understand the nuances of attaining a higher position in your field. So what are you waiting for? Take opportunities to meet with them separately and grow your relationship outside of the office.
But what if you can’t find anyone at your job? Finding a mentor outside of your industry or company means you need to know them or at least know someone who knows them.
That’s right, I’m bringing networking up again. But hear me out: you won’t get what you want if you don’t go out and make an effort. So start sowing the seeds. Reach out to your friends, family, past coworkers, colleagues…the works.
This could be as simple as getting on the phone or asking them out to coffee. It all starts with a conversation. Learn about them first and then build off of that. If the conversation is flowing, ask if you can do anything to help them. This will not only show them what you can do, but that you also have something to offer–that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Then it’s time to see if they’re willing to help you move your career along.
Remember, it’s just as important that you’re the right fit for them as they are for you. So no matter where you begin your search, it’s essential to establish and develop a relationship first. It’s a simple statement, but has a lot of meat behind it. Becoming someone’s mentee should be a natural progression, not a forced or formal process. Take the time to find the perfect match.