Debi Kinney is an award winning business strategist and hospitality industry expert. She serves as General Manager and Director of Sales for CSI DMC, Las Vegas.
Finding a mentor and mentoring others have always been important in one’s career path, but in today’s world especially it is critical to find mentors to work with and mentees to help along the way. According to Forbes online, mentoring has proved so beneficial that 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.
As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. So that said, everyone can be mentored! We all have learning to do and growth to achieve. Mentors provide so much more than information. In looking for a mentor, first consider what you are truly in search of. What type of support and training will help you most? Are you looking for help with technical skills or motivation? Do you need advice or coaching? Once you know what you need, you can connect with the right person to be that guide in your life.
One of the best ways to find a mentor or mentee is to look at who you already know! Going through your address book or contacts list, reviewing your LinkedIn or other social media connections, and looking at a membership list from any professional organizations you belong are three great ways to find someone whom you can ask to be your mentor or offer to mentor. If you are looking for a mentor earlier in your career and do not have a lot of contacts yet or a professional network established, you can think about what type of support you are looking for and then connect that to people you know in that role. From there, you would want to find a path to start a conversation with that person, perhaps through family or friends who may have a personal or professional connection, and then identify if they would be open to a mentorship scenario.
Once you have identified what you want to be mentored about, and who you think would be a good mentor to fill that role, it is time to reach out and make the ask. When reaching out, it is critical to always be respectful of that person’s time. I always recommend emailing first to schedule a time to talk, rather than calling out of the blue and potentially catching someone off guard. Be ready to clearly describe the type of mentorship you are seeking, and share the reason why you are asking that particular person to be your mentor. By helping them to see the position they are in to support your ask, you will be more likely to receive a positive response.
Randy Pausch said, “sometimes you can’t pay it back, so you just have to pay it forward”. Mentoring others is an incredible way to give back to your company, your industry, your school, your community – the list goes on. By mentoring others, you will also receive side benefits such as fresh perspective, a sense of accomplishment from helping someone else, and even increased personal learning and sharpening your own communication, leadership and interpersonal skills.
A meaningful mentor/mentee relationship is symbiotic, neither taking more or less than the other. An ideal pairing exists when both sides contribute and benefit to the best of their abilities.
Once you know what you are looking for in pairing up with a mentor or mentee, then keep in mind that each partner must take responsibility for their own learning and coaching roles. By setting realistic expectations for the mentorship, being open about your needs, and providing each other with feedback, both mentor and mentee will come away from the mentorship with goals achieved and positive experiences.
Especially in today’s times, mentoring and being mentored are critical in terms of connectivity to a wider network, new perspectives on how to find jobs, and awareness of new or to be announced role announcements. Studies have shown that only about 25% of all open jobs are posted on job boards – the rest come through word of mouth. This means that the more people you can connect with, the more opportunity you will learn about. Hearing about potential job openings is one advantage, and in a mentoring relationship there is also the possibility for a professional reference, which will also help you to stand out to any potential employers. The more you can grow and rely on your network, the more opportunities you will have.
As Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” And who doesn’t need a little hope in their lives?