As we discussed in our piece Mentoring vs Sponsorship, whoever you decide on as your mentor, they should be someone who helps and guides you to achieve your career and life goals. Being mentored gives you the opportunity to gain information, support, knowledge and a strong connection from a mentoring relationship and can benefit both the mentee and mentor.
When choosing a mentor, it’s important to recognise that mentoring takes work from both parties involved, and you need to establish the goals and outcomes you want to achieve from the relationship.
At our 10,000 Women in Tech Virtual conference in November, many our speakers will be discussing their tips on how to be mentored, what to look out for when finding the right mentor and how to set goals for mentoring success.
Whether you’re considering finding a mentor or you already have someone you ask for advice and support, having a set of goals and a structure to the mentorship will ensure you get the most benefits from the relationship.
If you haven’t had a mentor before, you want to approach someone or don’t feel you’re getting enough out of the relationship, here are our 10 tips on how to be mentored:
- Set goals and make a shortlist. Before approaching someone to become your mentor, it’s important to establish what it is you want to get out of the mentoring relationship. What do you hope to achieve by having a mentor, is it career success, new skills, a promotion or exposure to different working styles? Establish your goals, and from there you’ll be able to find a suitable mentor so you’re not wasting your time, or theirs.
- Choose wisely. Finding the right mentor is not always simple, and choosing the most obvious person may not always challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone. Network to seek out people in your industry or others, to work out who may be able to help you achieve the goals you want. Attend conferences, industry events, speak with leaders in your company or clients. If you’re worried about networking, read our successful networking blog for tips on how to get the most out of networking opportunities.
- Three’s not a crowd. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor. Mentors come in many different shapes, sizes and skills, and choosing just one can limit what you may learn and what opportunities are presented. Many successful people have a variety of mentors for separate roles in their careers and lives, and they often change as you grow, learn and move through different stages of your career.
- Make a plan. Once you’ve decided on a mentor and they’ve agreed, it’s important to establish a plan, being respectful of your mentor’s time and other commitments. Set meetings in advance and make sure you’re committed to the relationship. It’s also key to organise how you will communicate and give feedback. Manage expectations and how involved you are both willing to be. When do you want feedback, how will that be structured? Come up with a plan early on so you’re both aware of how this relationship will work, so you get the most out of your mentoring goals.
- Be proactive about reaching your goals. Set goals about what you want to achieve with your mentor, where do you want to go and how will you both get there. As the mentee, it’s up to you to stay proactive and stay on track to reach your goals, don’t expect your mentor to do the work.
- Vary your time together. There are many things you can do with your mentor, from feedback on work, networking together, helping with challenges, talking through highs and lows and upskilling to achieve your goals. Whilst a coffee may be a good way to start, varying the activities will broaden your opportunities to learn from your mentor so be proactive in looking for and utilising different measures.
- Be open to feedback. You don’t have to take all the advice your mentor gives you, but if you’re not open to feedback and advice then the relationship may not be useful for either of you. Listen and accept different viewpoints and be curious about what your mentor can offer. Whether you agree or not, it’s all a learning experience.
For more discussions and tips on how to be a good mentee and how to maximise the relationship to accelerate your career, our November virtual conference, 10,000 Women in Tech, will have speakers from a variety of industries discussing how mentoring has helped their careers. It is open to everyone, not just those working in tech.
For more information and to register, visit https://emberin.com/10000womenintech/