This week’s networking tip is contributed by the talented and motivated Karen Hinds, founder of Workplace Success Group, LLC and creator of The Power of Distinction Program. I have been watching Karen for several years and I’ve been impressed with her skill, passion and boldness.
- Karen is currently organizing a 2013 Phenomenal Woman’s Conference in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Get on her email list if you are interested in grooming your professional skills and enjoying some island relaxation at the same time.
Karen is committed to helping teenagers and young professionals get a successful start to their careers and work life. She is a strong advocate for mentoring, a valuable relationship that can benefit people of all ages and experience levels. In this article, Karen offers eight points you should consider when looking for a mentor.
I was particularly intrigued with Karen’s ideas about exchange mentorship-an activity that I have benefited from of late. Below are a few excerpts from her article Walking with Giants_Finding a Mentor_by Karen Hinds
What is a mentor?
“Mentoring is simply a relationship where you are able to occasionally call, email, or visit with someone who is more knowledgeable than you are in a particular area. Notice I did not say someone who is older. Mentoring is not about age; it is about experience. Anyone with expertise that you lack qualifies to be a mentor, providing that person is willing to share their knowledge.
Mentors cut your learning curve and help you avoid a host of costly mistakes. There is no rule that says you can have only one mentor, and in fact it will be to your advantage to have a few mentor relationships that can help you grow in different areas of your personal and professional life.
Obtaining a mentor should not be difficult and the relationship does not always have to be a formal arrangement. In fact, many people seem to shy away from formal mentoring responsibilities because it seems like a tremendous commitment of time and resources. However, these same people are almost always open to answering quick questions.
How do you find a mentor or mentors?
- Be clear about why you want a mentor. Write down all the reasons you need a mentor and be able to articulate them. Think about what you would like to gain from the relationship as well.
- Know your preferred work style. Think about your personality type and that of your mentor. Some mentors are very laid back and friendly; others can be very structured and formal. It’s just a difference in personality work styles.
- Mentors are not perfect. They are regular people willing to be a resource to help you learn. Your mentor can advise you, but making decisions should always be your responsibility.
- Describe who your ideal mentor would be. Take into consideration the person’s experience, qualifications and current position. Make a list of those qualities.
- Make a list of people who might fit your criteria. We all would like a high-profile person as a mentor but don’t get star-struck. Sometimes the best mentor is a dedicated, lesser-known individual who is genuinely interested and willing to help you achieve your goals, teach you something new, share their experiences, open doors for you or just support you and cheer you on in your endeavors.
- Tell a few trusted people you are searching for a mentor. They may be able to suggest a few possible people to you. If you see someone you think might fit your description of the ideal mentor, invite him or her to coffee or schedule an informational interview. During your meeting, ask that person if it’s acceptable for you to call occasionally for advice. Most people will say yes, but if the person sounds hesitant, he could be uninterested or simply have too many other time commitments. Don’t take it personally. Thank the person for his time and move on to the next person on your list. If the person says yes, great.
- Look at your school, community or company. Find out if there is a formal mentoring program. If so, check to see if there are any prerequisites.
- Don’t be a leech. Although your mentor is supposed to help you, don’t suck him dry of his time, talents and resources. Figure out what you can also offer your mentor so it becomes a mutually beneficial relationship. Be prepared, enthusiastic and show you understand and appreciate his time and information.”
- Download and read the full article: Walking with Giants_Finding a Mentor_by Karen Hinds
What is exchange mentorship and how can it help you?
“If you are still unable to find a mentor, then seek out an exchange mentorship. It’s a growing trend where two people agree to mentor each other in their respective areas of expertise. One individual might be very good at social media networking and the other person may be very good at managing people. In this scenario, both parties would agree to help each other grow professionally in these areas.
For over 10 years I have been meeting with someone who has now become my friend, and we’ve spent hours teaching and guiding each other. When we first met, my friend was considering leaving corporate America to start her own business and I was ramping up my corporate outreach. We met for coffee, and before long we were meeting and calling each other with ideas, suggestions and even leads. She relied on me to share my knowledge and experience owning and operating training and development business and I relied on her to teach me what corporations look for when purchasing training services. Our relationship is now over 10 years old and still going strong. Although we are now both business owners, we still mentor each other as we bring different skills sets to the table.”
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Do you currently have a mentor? Do you serve as a mentor to someone else? Have you recently engaged in the process of exchange mentorship with a professional colleague? Spend a little time this week reflecting on these questions. Consider the value that you might create and receive by engaging yourself in the mentoring process. It is an awesome way to enrich and extend an existing networking relationship into something even more beneficial and rewarding for both parties. Mentoring is a fantastic way to grow yourself personally and professionally. Yes, you too have the opportunity to “walk with giants” and participate in a world of larger possibilities.
” If they ever tell my story let them say that I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die.” – Odysseus
About the guest writer: Karen Hinds is a consultant, motivational speaker, Founder/CEO of Workplace Success Group and author of five books, including Get Ahead: 101 Courtesies for the New Workplace. Her company provides workforce development solutions to organizations committed to increasing the effectiveness of emerging leaders. Some of her clients include Frito-Lay, The Bank of New York Mellon, Turner Construction, Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, University of Connecticut, and the Northwest Regional Investment Board. She writes a weekly business column for an international newspaper and appears as a guest on radio and television programs. Learn more at http://powerofdistinction.com/