by Lois Zachary
You’ve missed the deadline for submitting your request for a mentor, again! There was just too much on your plate. Well, guess what? You don’t need to wait for a formal mentoring program to get matched with your next mentor. If you follow these simple steps you can do it yourself!!
But where to begin? The task seems daunting but it needn’t be. Just follow these simple steps.
- Do some reflection and self-assessment. Consider mentoring relationships you’ve had in the past and what worked for you and what didn’t. What are the lessons you want to carry forward? You may discover, for example, that you had a hard time asking for help or sharing your vulnerabilities and, on reflection, you realize you could have gotten so much more about the experience had you been willing to reveal more of yourself. Or, you may notice that the mentor who was the most helpful to you gave you fair and candid feedback. These kinds of insights can help you make a better decision about the attributes and characteristics you are looking for in your next mentor.
- Use criteria to identify, seek, and select the right mentors for you. The choice of a mentoring partner should be deliberate and well-thought out. If you use criteria rather than relying on chemistry, you will find you make a sounder decision. Relying on criteria helps you focus on just what you need. It suggests possibilities you probably never thought about before.
- Network like crazy to find the right mentor for you. Ask the people you know who they know. Be explicit about the criteria you are looking for in a mentor. Follow up on any lead, no matter how minor. Remember they have connections too.
- Use your criteria when you make your final selection. Don’t get blown away by personality, charisma or chemistry after you meet someone. Look for a mentor who will be a good learning fit for you. Ask yourself: Will this person challenge me to stretch and grow? Does this person have the interest, time and willingness to mentor me? Does this person have the knowledge and expertise I need? Is there a good learning fit between what I need and what this person has to share?
- Bring your authentic self to the relationship. Be open and real. Let your mentor get to know the real you. This means being willing to be open, honest and vulnerable.
“Doing it yourself,” it doesn’t mean going it alone. What it means is doing the preparation work and spending the time to find the mentor with the right learning fit for you.
Lois Zachary is the President of Leadership Development Services, LLC. and an international expert on mentoring and leadership development. She has written several books on mentoring. The newest one is The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. Other books include Creating a Mentoring Culture: The Organization’s Guide, and The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You.