Imagine You – With a Mentor

By Evelyn Milani

How to Identify and Approach a Mentor– Transform Your Career, Have Better Success Achieving Your Goals

Can you remember that favorite teacher in high school or college or that aunt/uncle, mom/dad, who really believed in you, encouraged you and gave you that extra “umph” to get moving on a goal? Everyone has had that person in their life who saw tremendous potential and provided sage wisdom and encouragement so you could make it happen.

One of my personal influencers is my mother, who encouraged me to leave corporate America and open my recruitment firm. That was twenty-five years ago and I have never looked back.

As we get older, we feel like we have to take on life on our own. Some people may view their asking for advice as a sign of weakness when in reality, reaching out to an expert can help you reach your goals more quickly because everyone has a story to tell about lessons learned.

If you are excited about optimizing your career or reaching personal goals, seek out a trusted guide-a mentor, who can help you focus, provide a unique perspective and help you keep on track. People genuinely like to help, helping others provides a sense of purpose and pride, especially when the person asking for help achieves their goals.

Here are tips on how you can identify a good mentor to help you achieve your goals, both personal and career:

Who, in your network/family/church/school/gym/work has achieved what you are trying to accomplish? Does someone in these groups know of someone who has accomplished similar goals?

Clarify what it is that you want to achieve; articulate your goal in one sentence such as “I am targeting becoming a Director of I.T. within the next eighteen months”. Ambiguous goals are hard for anyone to get behind, make sure your goal is crystal-clear.

Approach a likely mentor through your network or on your own with a professional introduction. Be respectful and articulate why this person was selected, ie: “Your accomplishments inspire me, we both attended Sac State OR we both know Dan Smith. I am hoping to achieve a Director-role in I.T. I would love to learn about how you were able to achieve your career success. Would you be open to a fifteen-minute introductory meeting over coffee or an introductory call?”

Deliver your note through Linkedin or through a mutual contact. State your goal (not a list of goals) and indicate that your meeting request would involve a small, reasonable amount of time that is based on schedule availability. Some busy executives are not able to break away for a coffee meeting, if that is the case, offer an introductory phone call as an option.

Consider selecting a mentor from a different industry! The uniqueness of ideas and advice may add more value than advice from someone in your industry or with a similar background. Also, if you are a male, consider a female mentor and vice-versa.

These tips can help you get the process started. Why wouldn’t you want to pursue a mentor? You will have your opportunity to mentor someone else down the road! “All boats rise”! Our next article will cover how to maximize working with a mentor. Stand by!

Ask me anything about careers in I.T.! [email protected]