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Mentoring – Is It The Best Investment You Can Make

By stevenmills, Jul 2 2015 12:33PM

If Mentoring is to Support, Encourage and Teach, why haven’t you got one? Finding a mentor is one of the best career investments you can make. A good mentor can offer a wealth of knowledge, experience, professional contacts and value to not only developing careers but also to the most developed CEO’s by challenging perspectives.

So how do you go about selecting a mentor?

1. Don’t just look within your current company.

The people who are best placed to support you are not always your line management. Mentors are not always seasoned leaders although they do have extensive experience, failings and learnings that have been made along the way.

There are people all around you that have valuable input, depending on the issue at hand.

Be open to mentoring from multiple sources. One colleague might be great at reviewing your bid or proposal, another might help you prepare your CV or for a job interview, others may coach you on how to manage staff or even a difficult client. Building a broad network increases your ability to find the right advisor at the right time.

2. Seek out and earn your mentor.

The most fulfilling mentoring relationships aren’t the ones provided to you through HR development programs, they’re the ones you have found and earned for yourself.

A strong mentoring relationship is built on collaboration and the commitment to the professional development of one or both of its participants. While in the typical mentoring relationship, one participant has more experience, skill or knowledge than the other, many strong mentoring relationships provide an opportunity for both parties to learn from each other.

The key is in your commitment to the relationship. If you’re facing a challenge, draw up potential solutions and demonstrate your desire to improve. Ask your mentor if you’re on the right track, listen carefully, be open to feedback and act accordingly. Developing these genuine, constructive relationships with people you admire takes work. Yet, when you take initiative and share ideas, leadership will notice.

3. Put in the effort.

At their best, mentoring relationships are rewarding and beneficial to everyone involved. Just as you may gain knowledge and guidance from a more experienced colleague, a mentor can also grow and develop through the relationship with you.

Understand that each party brings valuable insight and perspective to the relationship but this knowledge share takes time and effort. I know I have learned as much from my mentees as they have from me. Mentoring relationships can not only propel your career but also challenge and inspire you. It’s never too late to start learning from those around you.

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