I’ve learned that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

~ Andy Rooney

In short mentoring is exactly that – finding the right person to guide you to success or self-awareness!

Purpose of Mentoring

Career advancement or a career success support program which helps you accelerate toward your career success. Although many targets now suggest a mentor group as opposed to one-on-one mentoring, but if you find the right match there is no substitute to someone who can assist you in finding the right path to your goals.

Why the emphasis on mentoring “career women”?

The reason for emphasizing mentoring for a career woman comes from the basic fact that making personal connections and ‘feeling’ connected comes naturally to a woman. When women trail behind in career advancement it is most often not because of their capabilities or ambitions, it is because they had failed to make the “right” connection somewhere. By connection here I mean finding the right mentor who can guide you and support you through the tough climb up the corporate ladder.

With time our goals and success definition changes and so do our career aspirations; in times of mental turmoil one of the best decisions would be to seek help – ask and you shall get. Often times this is more true for a woman and compared to a man – a career woman has a lot to juggle, family responsibilities and career pressure does not leave much time to network, or chalk out a career transition plan as effectively. You know you want to get somewhere but finding the right way is tougher than before. Don’t let your dreams be just dreams it is time to act and seek help – a mentor might be someone who can help suggest a path or direction and this article is just about how and where to find the mentor that suits “your” need.

A mentor can show you how to ramp up your skill-sets, network effectively and work around or eliminate your weaknesses. They can even open some very important doors to leadership positions.” – Maddy Dychtwald in a very interesting HuffingtonPost article titled: Women and Leadership: How to Find a Mentor

Here’s to you on your path to learning and success in no time! Understanding the mentoring process is the first step to your path to success. Here’s how:

Where to find Mentors?

Your Organization

In your own company would be one of the best starting point. Why? – mainly because there is a higher probability that they have gone through a comparable promotional ladder or bureaucracy.

Professional Career Counselors and Mentors

At times a fresh and unbiased approach works for some of us – it might work very well if you seek mentoring through a professional career coach or professional mentor. They have been trained to assist you toward your success and even though they might cost you for the service the results might be faster and perhaps more conducive as compared to searching and hunting on your own.

Seek Recommendation

You may also ask your friends or colleagues if they have been a mentee before or can recommend any mentor in your organization. There are many professional associations which offer mentorship at low or no cost, look up such organizations in your area of expertise.

And don’t be afraid to look elsewhere – great career guidance books and online retargets are a tremendous help in our current world.

Who would be the best Mentor for me?

A role model can be a good mentor or someone in the position/job where you see yourself as a successful professional.

Keeping industry focus is essential when finding the ‘right’ mentor. Before you narrow down on a couple write down the answers to these questions:

  • Why do I need a mentor?
  • What do I wish to achieve with the mentorship?
  • Would a mentor in similar field of expertise as mine be better for my requirement? (This depends completely on the purpose of mentoring – are you stuck in your career and want to advance further or are you seeking career change? The choice of your ideal mentor would depend on your target.)
  • What is this person known for – the one(s) you have narrowed down as a possible mentor – check on his/her expertise and past experience – a LinkedIn profile check might help you here or a reference check from those this person has worked with before.

There is a possibility that the person who you have narrowed down as a possible mentor would not have the time or reason to take on this responsibility so best to have at least 2-3 in your list before you approach them.

Is it tough finding a mentor?

Yes, sure it is. First the main reason you seek a mentor is someone who is up there where you wanna be right? That’s the main purpose why people seek a mentor – you want to a person who can be a role model to your aspirations. Then you have to do the right research to seek mentorship from those in your industry and the possibilities are higher that this person might not have the time or would be already on a career transition or role change in this ever evolving workplace. That is the reason why you should have a couple of options to explore during your research.

An alternative could be look for someone with the right credentials to be a mentor. For example a career counselor or a seasoned mentor. They’ll guide you through some proven methodology to assist you – note here it is a self-discovery process and it can be highly illuminating, as opposed to being told what to do!

I have a Mentor, now what?

To get the best out of your mentors you must know the work style preferences of this person. You must recognize and respect that your mentor is devoting extra time out of his/her busy schedule and your mentor’s schedule comes first.

Some tips on how to go plan and organize your mentoring process:

  • Request mutually agreeable mentoring sessions (days and timings) and don’t push too hard on the schedule – after all you have found a teacher and a guide it is best to let him/her take a lead on scheduling.
  • Plan the meetings – on phone or in person, who should call, should you set up a meeting reminder email or a calendar request. If you have this trivial things streamlined it will be better to keep to the schedule and get the most of each session.
  • It is important to set goals during your first meeting; some good tips are here (which also talks about ending a mentoring process in case things are not working out for you).
  • Always respect the time allotted for your mentoring sessions – keep a tab on time and end as planned, this ensures a happy and beneficial relationship.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
~John Crosby

Some Mentoring Organizations / Retargets

  • Mentormatch – Website: www.MentorNet.net
    Volunteer as an e-mentor/e-mentoring network for diversity
  • Women in Technology – WIT Website: http://www.womenintechnology.org/
    – “Women Mentoring Women.” This formally structured Mentor/Protégé Program provides for a member protégé to obtain advice from a senior member of WIT. The program also provides professional presentations from key speakers on protégé-selected topics and networking among all participants.
  • SCORE – Website: http://www.score.org/ask_score.html
    Business advice mentoring

If you have tips to share on your experience with a mentor or the mentoring process, please do comment!