When we think of mentorship, many different images might be conjured up. Dumbledore and Harry Potter, Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon, Aristotle and Alexander the Great; examples of standout mentors and mentees abound in fiction and history alike. Yet, few of us can boast of such prime mentor/mentee relationships in our own lives, and plenty
So what makes a good mentoring experience, and who needs mentors in the first place? How do you go about finding a mentor and being the best mentee you can be? Check out the who, what, when, where, and why of mentoring below.
Who needs mentorship?
So who needs mentors anyway, let alone the hassle and responsibility of a mentee? As it turns out, there are multiple benefits on both sides of the coin. John Rampton, writing for Inc.com, believes that mentors are a must for multiple reasons.
He appeals to the fact that mentors can be a wealth of knowledge and information, often able to see where we need to improve in ways that we cannot see ourselves. He also mentions that mentors are able to stimulate our personal and professional growth by setting boundaries that we can’t set for ourselves and by offering trusted advice, backed by experience.
If you feel like you’re stuck, unable to improve yourself on your own, and seeking to grow in ways that challenge you, you might need a mentor. These benefits of mentorship are more than just anecdotal — when it comes to non-profits, the ones that commonly succeed have boards that commit to assessment and skills development via training and mentoring, according to Asset Panda.
As far as why one might decide to mentor? Easy: it makes you a better leader, teaches you more about your own company and processes via multiple perspectives, and it simply makes you feel great, writes Jo Eismont with The Muse.
What is mentoring, actually?
Mentoring is something that people seem to seek out without actually understanding the ins and outs of before they do. However, some of the best advice about what mentoring
“Mentoring is mutually beneficial. Both parties benefit from the lasting professional relationship being built,” writes Rogers. “It is not only fulfilling for a mentor to cultivate success through his/her mentee
It’s important to realize that both parties are required to put in effort, mentors and mentees alike, to make sure that the mentorship relationship is successful. You get out what you put in, and if either entity isn’t in it to win it, both will fail. Mentorship is a dance, a give and take, like the pull between the ocean and the moon. Observing and respecting that synchronicity will ensure that the experience bears fruit that both parties may reap.
When should you seek out a mentor?
This question is one of the most important you can ask, because knowing “when” you should seek out a mentor is akin to knowing if you should seek out a mentor. There’s no wrong time to seek out a mentorship opportunity, either as a mentor or a mentee, unless you’re unprepared for the commitment that comes with the relationship.
Those who are too busy to give as much to the mentoring relationship as they are able to take will likely find themselves in a bad relationship with their mentoring counterpart. Make sure that if you are going to take on the mentoring experience that you have time in your schedule and your personal energy reserves — mentorship can be an intense thing to commit to.
Nevertheless, if you determine that you are in need of a mentor, begin looking for one now! This isn’t to say that finding a mentor will be an easy task, but the sooner you begin the search, the sooner you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Where do you find them?
One of the best and simultaneously worst aspects of seeking out mentorship opportunities is understanding that they are everywhere. This means that, if you know what you’re looking for, the world is your oyster. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, on the other hand, you’re going to have a bad time — like looking for a needle in a haystack that’s made of needles.
Still, there are specific areas you can stick to with the idea of increasing your odds of finding a partner in mentorship. Anna Johansson, writing for Entrepreneur, lists a couple of the best places to start:
- Online mentorship networks: If there’s a need for it, somebody’s thought of it and put it on the internet. You may have to sign up for an account, but this is as on-the-nose as it gets.
- Social media: Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are perfect for those trying to connect for mentorship opportunities. Start following people you admire in your industry, and interact with them accordingly.
- Fitness classes and gyms: Johansson notes that businesspeople who like to stay active often network at the gym and in fitness classes.
- Events catered specifically toward professional networking: Physical networking is, oftentimes, more valuable than online mentorship. Be on the lookout for local events and meetups directed specifically at pairing mentors and mentees.
More importantly than where to find a mentor is knowing what to look for in a mentor, and why a mentor or mentee would be important in your life to begin with.
Why is mentorship important?
Mentorship is important in that it’s how human beings have passed down trade skills, information, and even cultural knowledge. Even more than that, human beings are social, pack-creatures. Even the most
Still, mentorship is important because it can take on so many forms. You might have multiple mentors in different fields and at different levels. In fact, transformational leadership is fueled in part by training and mentorship, which commonly leads individuals and institutions alike toward
Of course, some might look at this question and answer: it’s not. Mentorship isn’t for everybody, and it’s important to recognize that as well.
Whether you are in need of a mentor or a mentee, hopefully now you know what to look for and how to begin your search.