Brit & Co asked for my advice on finding the right mentor. How you prepare to find your dream mentor to how you manage the mentoring relationship, fits right in to how I think about networking. It’s preparation. It’s considering the time and other demands on the mentor. It’s finding ways to connect to get the information you need to move ahead. It’s so much more than simply requesting a 1:1 coffee date.
From the Brit & Co post, my top three tips:
- Do your research. Knock the socks off of your dream mentor by showing them how much you know about who they are and what they do. It’ll start a genuine conversation that can lead to a working relationship. Not sure how to do it? Hoey has some ideas. “Inform yourself by Googling first. I’m active on social media. I contribute to online publications. I publish a weekly newsletter. There are videos of my talks and podcasts I’ve contributed to. All of this content and data is about, you guessed it, mentoring.” She says you should definitely read, watch, and listen to anything you can about your dream mentor before reaching out.
- Be open to changing your expectations. “Reimagine your expectations of a mentor,” Hoey advises. “I may not have the time for regular one-on-one coffee dates with you — however, like other busy people, I do have the time to answer an email.” Mentors are there to “guide you through thorny work or a professional challenge,” and that if the person can help you sort out a work challenge by answering a question via email or with a quick call, that totally counts as mentoring too.
- Take the initiative. If you want to land your dream mentor, you’ll need to be proactive about doing the work and putting yourself front and center. Hoey remembers a former mentee who made her mark. “When I was still working as an attorney with a hectic schedule, this student imagined (in my mind) that I was a great mentor. When I asked her why, she said ‘you show up when I’ve asked you to.’ The reality was that this law student scheduled the time, location, and agenda for each of our meetings — she took note of the long hours I was working. She also planned carefully and put a lot of consideration into how I could truly guide her.”