Advancing in your career takes more than education and hard work. You can work every day at a job you love — putting in your best effort daily — and still find yourself falling behind or advancing slower than you want. Mentorship solves many of the issues for up-and-coming professionals. By establishing a strong connection with a mentor who can help you grow professionally, you can set higher goals for yourself and work toward more success, improved metrics and an overall better professional performance and experience.
You don’t have to wait for an employer to start up a mentorship program at your workplace. The mentor relationship is a personal one that exists between yourself and a more experienced professional who is willing to guide you. It can form inside or outside of the workplace. No matter how you find a mentor, working together and keeping in regular contact has a lot of benefits that help you, your mentor, your employer and even the other employees at your office.
Discover more about the benefits of mentoring below, then learn how to find a mentor on Introducely.
1. Greater Ability to Work In a Team Environment
When you develop a relationship with a mentor, you can enjoy a closer connection than you typically have with other coworkers or even supervisors. And that lets you discuss issues candidly, including any struggles you have while working with others.
Your mentor can help you work on interpersonal skills or provide advice when you’re dealing with sticky situations. And when you can bring those lessons learned into the workplace, it can help you be a better team player — potentially resulting in more positive attention from management, the ability to achieve goals at a faster rate and options for growing professionally and personally.
2. Access to Wider Networks
A mentor is typically someone who has been in the industry longer than you, which means they may have cultivated a larger network of resources and contacts. When you become someone’s mentee, you typically get some level of access to that wider network.
For example, if you let your mentor know you’re interested in going back to school, they may know someone at the local college who can help smooth the way. Or, if you’re ready to move on professionally to a bigger pond, your mentor might have connections with or know about a company that’s hiring.
3. Increased Chances at Project Completion
If you’re in a role that requires taking on large projects, having a mentor can improve your chances at successfully completing those tasks. This is especially true if you’re working in a solo environment or don’t have a lot of access to internal resources at your company.
For example, you might be starting your own business or running your own business already. Perhaps you’re a graphic designer and you’ve landed an enormous website design job that will take two months. As a contractor, you don’t want to go to your client with every concern. But you could turn to a mentor for guidance and support as you work through the task.
The same is true if you work for someone else. Perhaps you’re a software developer tasked with creating a new project. You may have some internal support, but your own mentor can provide additional coaching or help you talk through problems that need to be solved with your project.
4. Development of Leadership Skills
For many people, the path to professional growth is tangled with a path to leadership. Even if you’re not eyeing the C suite, as you grow in your career, you may be asked to take on new responsibilities. Those can range from supervising teams or departments to leading process initiatives.
Building leadership skills can definitely be a slow process that takes some trial and error. You may stumble or take two steps back for every step forward during various phases of your leadership development. Having a mentor can make this a much smoother process. The mentor has likely walked this same path and can provide actionable pointers for how to avoid or overcome challenges. Plus, the mentor provides a safe place for discussing your concerns and making plans to deal with each obstacle that may come up.
5. Motivation Toward Professional Development
Constantly improving yourself can be a tedious effort, especially if you aren’t seeing immediate results from your work. You might know that those night classes that move you slowly toward a BA or graduate degree will have positive benefits on your career…eventually. But when you’re burning the midnight oil, it’s easy to get tired and wonder if you should keep going.
A strong mentor relationship helps motivate you toward continued professional development. Your mentor knows — from experience — the value of what you’re doing and may be able to point to real-world examples of how the hard work paid off. They can also provide a realistic, third-party evaluation of whether you’re making the right efforts so you can enjoy more confidence in the path you’ve chosen.
6. Improved Accountability
Mentors don’t just provide motivation. They can also provide an important level of accountability for professional development. Because a mentor-mentee relationship is supposed to be a close one that extends beyond traditional coworker relationships, you may be more likely to want to live up to promises you’ve made your mentor.
Simply telling someone your goals and plans tends to make you more likely to follow through with them. A mentor is also in a unique position to provide accountability in a firm but realistic manner. That’s because they’re not as emotionally involved as your loved ones, but they don’t have any sort of gain/profit motivation like your employer would have.
7. Increased Confidence
Working with a mentor can help you create an overall air of confidence that helps increase performance throughout your career and, potentially, your personal life.
One reason for this is that you know you have someone you can turn to for advice. And if your mentor is outside of your current corporate structure, you don’t have to worry about office politics or perceptions that you don’t know what you’re doing. You can confidently approach your mentor with any questions.
Mentor relationships also increase confidence because the mentor can bolster the mentee’s perception of his or her own knowledge and skills. Sometimes you know exactly what the right approach is, but you’re not yet confident in your own decision-making. Each time you go to your mentor and say, “Here is the problem and here’s what I think the solution is,” and hear that they agree with you and think you’re right, your confidence in those decision-making skills goes up.
8. Higher Job Satisfaction
It’s easy to get mired in the minutia or the negative aspects of any job. An experienced mentor is able to help you reframe challenges and complaints and be able to see the positive opportunities around you. This doesn’t mean that having a mentor makes everything magically rosy. However, actively participating in regular conversations with someone who has an eye on the bigger picture due to experience can help you develop more job satisfaction, which in turn might reduce some stress and friction in your career.
9. Wider Perspectives
Finally, having a mentor can provide you with a better perspective on almost everything in your career. Having forged a way for his or her own success, your mentor can help you understand the big picture of your career and all the paths that might get you to your goals. They can also help you see how setbacks may be opportunities in disguise or coach you on understanding the perspectives of others so you can offer better services to clients or learn to coach your own employees.
Find a Mentor on Introducely
Many companies offer mentorship programs, and certainly your bosses or other senior staffers may be able to connect with you as mentors. But there are benefits to finding a mentor outside of your company. Your career is unlikely to end where you started, for example, and a mentor that’s not associated with your employer can remain with you throughout your journey. Reaching outside of your employment situation also provides an opportunity to discuss personal issues and worries related to your career that you wouldn’t be comfortable bringing up at work.Find a mentor by requesting introductions on Introducely. Post a request to be introduced to someone with experience in your niche that’s willing to meet with you and provide advice or act as a sounding board in discussions. Once you get those introductions, you can start building mentor-mentee relationships that can support your entire career.