Think back to your first job, where you had endless questions and wasn't sure where to turn to for the answers. Hopefully you found someone that made you feel welcome in the workplace, someone that pointed you in the right direction, someone that you were able to truly learn from and admire.
No matter what industry you work in, having a trusted role model in the workplace is a necessity. Especially in the marketing and communications world, a role model can help flesh out new ideas you have, lead you to new connections, offer you tips and advice on the changing industry, build up your confidence, and just be a trusted colleague or connection.
Every single successful professional had to start somewhere, and often this started from a trusted mentor that they looked up to. Learning from someone older, wiser, and more experienced is the best way to gain hands-on knowledge from a reliable source. Inc. called having a mentor “a must” in your career, and at Publicist, we couldn’t agree more.
A strong mentor can help advance your skills, gain professional trust, build leadership potential, network new opportunities, find your inner confidence, consolidate your goals, and many other advantages to enhance your career.
Before narrowing down which mentor may be best, it can be helpful to focus on your own goals. These goals can assist you in figuring out where you may like to be in 10-15 years, allowing you to look for mentors that currently hold these positions or similar positions. Furthermore, it is important to connect with possible mentors before dwindling down your options. By making an initial connection, you can learn your potential mentor’s point of view, aspirations, skill set, and experience. Another important aspect is figuring out if you would like your mentor to be in your company or outside your company. This is a personal preference but definitely sets the stage and reduces the options of possible mentors. These first steps can lead you down the right path and assist you in finding the appropriate mentor that is suitable for you. This path opens up the doors to many great mentors and allows you to evaluate who is the right fit.
As a mentee, you will get the most from the mentor relationship by not taking a passive role. With any project or goal, you get what you put in, and being a mentee is no different. If you clearly define your goals, reach out often, seek advice, and take risks, you will gain more from being an active participant in the relationship. Mentors can also fill in gaps to one’s already advanced skill set. It is okay, and perhaps even more beneficial, to find a mentor that is not an exact replica of yourself. Mentors can strengthen your strengths, and more importantly, give advice in areas that you are struggling.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your mentee experience:
Soak in all the knowledge and information from your mentor.
Chances are your mentor is older, wiser, and more experienced than you. The greatest way to learn is from those who are already successful, and your mentor is there to provide one-on-one help to build your career. Pay attention to every detail and piece of advice given to you.
Be able to receive constructive constructive criticism.
When your mentor is giving you feedback and advice, it is in your best interest to take their comments seriously and as a starting point for improvement. Your mentor once started off as a mentee, and they will help guide you through the mistakes and troubles they once faced too. Mentors can see room for improvement and help you reach your full potential.
Seek out a mentor not in your specific skill set.
Having different perspectives from other sides of the industry can be great to expand the reach of your knowledge. If you work on creative brand strategy but your mentor is experienced in brand partnership, having a different perspective can help expand your horizons and see different angles of the industry you might not have before. In this example, having a look into consumer insights and behavior will only strengthen your creative skills.
Always listen to your mentor’s advice, but you don’t have to follow it.
When listening to advice from your mentor, it is crucial to be open to new perspectives, but also evaluate the guidance and tailor it to your own experience. A mentor can provide you with interesting perspectives and force you to reflect on some of your own ideas. Though, there will be times when you feel like you want to go in a different direction and that is okay. A mentor is not supposed to provide you with all the answers, but rather add a new perspective that causes you to think differently. It is important to always consider and reflect on your mentor’s advice, but then you can act in a way that feels right for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Your mentor is there because they want to see you succeed. Asking questions is a sign of involvement and engagement, as well as showing interest in your journey to success. Mentors want to work with mentees that are inquisitive and driven, and the best way to show interest is by asking questions.
Keep a professional yet friendly relationship with your mentor.
It’s great to become friends with your mentor, but at the end of the day, they are the ones providing advice and guidance as an older, wiser figure.