Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Harvesting Your Potential through Mentorship

Initiating a professional mentorship can be exactly what you need to take your career to the next level.  Unfortunately, some professionals end up signing up for another class on marketing software, attending another networking mixer or putting in additional blood, sweat and tears at the office - in hopes of finding the ultimate cure for their professional life. Yet, no matter what is going on in your career, forming and developing a professional mentoring relationship can provide valuable learning opportunities to enhance your career and your personal life.  

How do I use a mentorship to my advantage? 

Mentorship can take a variety of forms depending on the goals of the individual mentee and those goals are meant to grow, adjust and change throughout the mentorship.  Before you meet with your mentor, take time to be reflective on your career and professional development to assess where you would like to improve and where you could grow.  Even looking at a previous performance review may be a good place to start - but remember, the goals of the mentorship should be directed by you, not your boss.  During your first meeting, share your hopes and goals of the relationship, so both you and your mentor can shape the direction of the mentorship to come. Also, continually take time in your mentorship to discuss these goals and adjust the relationship as necessary. 

How should I go about finding a mentor? 

For many of us, our employers will connect new employees with mentors at the beginning of their career.  But what happens if this service isn't readily available to you?  Professional mentorship is still a very valuable part of development and just because mentorship services and/or curriculum aren't provides, doesn't meant they're not valuable.  Some places to look for mentorship opportunities, include re-connecting with your alma mater's Career Center, a past co-worker or boss, professional organization, or an organization specializing in mentoring relationships. Or just tap your network and talk to business professionals you respect and ask them for a contact who would be a good mentor.

What makes the right mentor? 

The key to success in finding the right mentor is two-fold. Most importantly, your mentor should be someone that is able to help inspire insightful conversation about your current and desired career path.  Another important element is that you and your mentor are able to work together to make your desired career path a reality.  Depending on where you want to go: your mentor can be an industry expert who is looking to teach you, someone you go to for day-to-day advice, or a professional who can challenge you to pursue (or develop) a new career path. 

So now you want a mentor, right? 

Now that you've learned tips for finding and cultivating a mentorship, go out and find a mentor who can help you to learn, reflect and develop into become the business professional you've always wanted to be. 

Jennifer Broman is an Assistant Account Executive at Hunt Adkins, a full-service advertising agency in Minneapolis.  Currently, she is serving as the MN AMA Blog Content Manager.  Recently, Jennifer started a mentoring relationship to help her further develop as an advertising professional who is connected and knowledgeable about the industry.
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