In our early mentorship research, 60 percent of people told us that they don’t currently meet with a mentor, that made me wonder, how do you professionals define mentorship?
Some of the responses we received include someone who provides guidance as needed to a less experienced individual, an inspirational person whose knowledge and guidance shapes my work for the better, someone who is an expert in their field and inspires others to achieve their potential, and a reflection of how you see yourself in a future state. These are all great definitions of mentorship, but we can even simplify the definition more to say a person who provides guidance and insight with this definition in mind. A mentor could be someone who is a peer, a supervisor, or someone in a role that you admire inside or outside of your current workplace. You’ll gain guidance and insight from a mentor in any of these roles, whether you’re looking for advice on tools, learning how to advance to the next level, or transitioning to a new field. And mentorship isn’t just for junior level people. Anyone can gain insights through talking about goals even if you have 20 or more years of experience. The tricky part is how to go about finding a mentor. Thirty one percent of our research participants indicated that they didn’t know where to find a mentor. There are many different places you can find someone, including at work, previous colleagues, LinkedIn connections, meeting someone through a mutual friend or colleague, a local meetup or professional group or an alumni network. Don’t approach a complete stranger about being a mentor. You want to make sure you have a connection with someone, which means you’ll have to get to know them a bit before jumping directly into the mentorship conversation. Once you’ve identified someone who you’d like to learn from, propose the conversation over coffee, a virtual meeting or even an email correspondence.
Tell them what you’d like to learn from them and guide the conversation. It’s up to you to get the most out of the mentorship. Don’t be afraid to learn from others because you never know what opportunities are out there.