Be Proactive in Seeking out the Right Mentor

Mentoringwomensmall I am frequently asked about mentoring – most people have already bought into the idea that they would benefit from talking with someone who has a few years on them professionally, to help guide the way and act as a sounding board.

There are great benefits to being mentored – an overview of more than 100 mentoring surveys conducted by the East Mentors Forum and reported recently in the Sunday Times found that nearly half of all respondents reported that mentoring had increased their opportunities for career advancement and 75% said the experience was positive, citing higher salaries and increased job satisfaction among some of the most tangible benefits. In my experience, a grain of salt would encourage people to pro-actively seek out mentors – which has certainly worked for my clients as well as myself.

After a recent presentation at the University of Cambridge, a participant came up to me and said that after our initial group session on mentoring she had decided to go and pro-actively find her own mentor rather than be dissatisfied with the match her department had made for her. Her initiative paid off and she was benefiting from this new match. I was so pleased at this comment as too many people assume they will be "assigned someone appropriate" and that they don’t have to take any more action. However, for this woman as well as for myself – pro-activity pays. I have had many mentors over my life who all gave sagacious advice on various topics that continue to benefit me today. From the secondary school teacher who encouraged me to get into debating to the college professor who encouraged me to move abroad after graduating to the first employer who taught me to get the point in my writing – a point some would say I am still learning! How has your life been impacted by mentors? 

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  • linda m lopeke

    While I appreciate that companies and b-schools are introducing mentoring programs, selecting a mentor is personal (it’s a very intimate relationship) and I would not want someone choosing my mentors for me. What could work better, perhaps, is to publicize the names of folks willing to serve in that role, which takes some pressure off in contacting them initially.
    I do not believe I would have achieved all that I have without the benefit of the support and guidance of my own mentors. And recognizing their important role in my success, I have chose to serve in a mentor capacity myself as a means of honouring them for their contribution to my career.
    It’s a cycle of giving and sharing that benefits all parties I think!
    Linda M. Lopeke
    Success-to-go for people working @ the speed of life!