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

Mentors are an important part of personal and professional development. They are guides through times when people need someone that can point them in the right direction. Good mentors are enthusiastic people, enjoying the role they play in helping others achieve their goals. Identifying strong mentors in your field is a good way to set yourself up for significant career transitions. It is important to working productively with them to achieve a set of goals.

This article will help you understand:

· The definition of mentorship.

· Why mentors are valuable.

· If you should personally seek a mentor.

· What to look for in a mentor.

· How to make the most of your mentorship.

What Is the Definition of Mentorship?

Mentorship is a relationship between two people where the individual with more experience, knowledge, and connections can pass along what they have learned to a more junior individual within a certain field. The more senior individual is the mentor, and the more junior individual is the mentee.

What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?

Many people confuse coaching and mentoring; however, they are different relationships with different purposes.

Coaching is generally a short-term personal relationship between two people in which the coach uses thought-provoking and creative strategies to help the client develop personally or professionally. On the other hand, a mentorship is a longer relationship – generally a year or more – that is mutually beneficial. The mentor helps the mentee develop professional skills or expertise, and the mentee allows the mentor to develop their leadership skills.

Why do you need a mentor?

Ask yourself why you want a mentor in the first place. Is it to guide your overall career? Help you get a promotion? Help you take a tactful leap from a ho-hum day job to a lucrative freelance career?

Knowing the answer to this question is a critical step to a fruitful mentoring relationship.

Mentors can help you think through challenges, deal with sticky career situations, develop strategies and evaluate opportunities.

For instance, if you are in broadcasting you could reach out to a producer whose career path you aspire to emulate, and then find a prominent blogger in your circle who could help you strengthen your visibility via social media.

After defining the scope of what you are seeking, take your mentor’s personality and chemistry into account. If someone intimidates you or does not seem invested in you, it will be challenging or even stressful to approach them.

“Your meetings should feel like a conversation, not a lecture, if you don’t feel comfortable expressing yourself, asking questions, and communicating your concerns, you’re not going to gain much from the relationship.”

"It is not like you'll be at a conference and chat with someone sitting next to you and say, 'Oh, will you be my mentor?'" Strugz said. "It's a process. It is kind of like when you think about friends in your life, how you met them and how maybe over a year or so you have gotten to become good friends … in the beginning, you did not say, 'Will you be my friend?' That would be completely awkward."

The difference between mentorships and friendships, however, is in how you follow up.

How to find a mentor

The first step to find a mentor is defining what you want out of your career. This may not mean planning out your whole career – it is important to leave room to go where things take you – but defining what you want in the short term can give you a clear path forward. Consider your career path and narrow it down so you can determine who has your dream job and who you admire. Reach out to someone you think you are comfortable with, who can be a neutral sounding board, and [who] will also provide great advice.

How to Make Your Mentorship Successful

Successful workplace mentoring programs are built on the backs of successful mentoring relationships. More importantly, participants and the organization will get the most benefits from a mentorship that has a strong relationship at its core. Here are some ways that you can build that successful mentor relationship.

Be committed - Mentoring takes time and energy from both participants. Each should be dedicated to playing their part and helping to build a strong relationship.

Have an agenda - You and your mentor should agree on an agenda before your meeting. This will help you get your questions answered and keep you both focused.

Set boundaries - To help create a positive connection, mentors and mentees should set boundaries. This can include when and how often to meet, the best ways to contact each other, and what each of you expects from the mentorship. Developing and sticking to these boundaries creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, which is an essential ingredient in good relationships.

Trying to find the “perfect mentor” often results in frustration and wasted time and energy because they do not exist! You also run the risk of being boxed into following their journey, rather than getting creative in paving your own. Choose Someone whose brain you would like to pick or whose career you admire, but whose path will not get in the way of your own.

Ultimately, mentors are incredibly important in the success of certain individuals, but if you want to learn something new or move up in your career, your biggest motivator is yourself!


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