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About This Episode
A famous English poet once penned the phrase, “No man is an island.”
And nowhere is that more true than in the professional world.
Nobody, no matter how it may look, has gotten to where they are, achieved their success, or risen to the leadership position they’re in without the help of others.
And few people are as crucial to those people’s success as a mentor.
Someone who can cut through all the fluff, look at things objectively, and help you navigate the ups and downs that come with a career. The hard stuff, and the fun stuff as well. Mentors are there for it all.
But how on earth do you go about finding one? It’s not as easy as just walking up to someone and saying, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” right?
On a recent episode of the Sales Engagement Podcast, we sat down with Sunanda Nair, an Enterprise Account Executive at Tidelift, for a discussion about how to find a mentor, how to be a mentor, and how on earth to know WHEN to ask for help.
The Role of the Mentor
There’s a huge push in the corporate world lately to be genuine. To always be putting your best self forward.
And that’s great advice. You should always be putting your best self forward. But what you shouldn’t be doing is being fake. Not being yourself.
It’s hard to do, especially if you’re new in the field. You graduate college, get into the professional world, and have no idea what you’re doing, but you want everybody you interact with to think that you know exactly what you’re doing.
So you fake it til you make it (which is horrible advice by the way.)
But a mentor can help you cut through that. A good mentor will be able to help you be yourself, while also presenting yourself in such a way that lets your coworkers know that you have skills, but are also open and teachable.
Having a couple of mentors, one of whom doesn’t work in your profession.
Someone on the outside can be much more objective than someone in your company. They’re equally important, so make sure that you seek out both.
We’ve been taught as a culture that vulnerability is bad. After all, in the animal kingdom, vulnerability means you wind up as someone’s lunch.
But vulnerability, when embraced and portrayed the right way, opens a door to honesty, empathy, and trust. When people see that you’re vulnerable, they’re more likely to confide in you, trust in you, and view you as someone who has their backs.
When To Ask For Help
Contrary to popular belief, there is no personality trait that makes you a good mentor, or makes you good at finding a mentor.
Extroverts don’t have an easier time finding a mentor than introverts. It’s a learned skill.
So how do you find a mentor? You’ve got to know WHEN, and HOW.
Your journey to find a mentor should begin the moment you start at a company. Start getting to know people.
Reach out to people in your company on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself. Engage in discussions on Twitter. Make your voice heard, even if you’re not entirely sure what it is that you’re talking about, or even if you don’t know the person.
Just having your voice out there will do wonders for you when you make that mentor request later.
When you finally do approach someone, don’t just ask to go out to coffee. Give them a WHY. What do you need? How do you think that person is uniquely qualified to help guide you in your career journey?
Understand that finding a mentor is a game of trial and error. You may find one on the first try. But odds are you’re going to go through a few meetings before you find someone that’s a good fit.
Be open to that. Understand that not everybody is a good fit for you. The sooner you become okay with that, the sooner you’ll find a mentor, and the sooner you’ll be able to be a mentor to someone else in their career.