How to Cultivate Mentorship Opportunities in Your Community


Whether you’re a new college graduate entering the workforce or an established executive with years of experience under your belt, you likely know the importance of mentorship—a relationship in which one person shares their expertise with another in order to foster growth. Mentorship can help you get ahead in your field and take your career to the next level. Whether it’s through finding the right mentor or building your own support network, cultivating mentorship opportunities in your community can be key to fostering your career development and growing as an individual.

What is a Mentor?
Everyone needs a mentor. It’s important that we all have someone who can guide us and act as a sounding board. They can give us advice on how to navigate challenges, offer us support during times of hardship, and help prepare us for professional success. The most successful people in life have mentors guiding them along their journey. Whether it’s professional or personal, mentors are our secret weapon in pursuing happiness and reaching our goals. But how do you find someone who can fill that role?

Where Can I Find a Mentor?
If you’re starting out on your own, or looking for ways to develop your career, a mentor can be one of your best assets. There are several ways you can go about finding a mentor that suits you—here are just a few networking events, social media (particularly LinkedIn), volunteering, local and national organizations, your university alumni center and mentoring programs offered by employers. Finding and cultivating a good relationship with someone who is willing to listen, offer advice and guidance can make all the difference in helping navigate your personal or professional goals…

How do I approach my mentor?
It’s important that you view your mentor as a coach, not a parent. It’s okay to show vulnerability and humility when approaching a potential mentor, but resist oversharing or sharing personal problems. Remember, it’s always up to you whether or not you decide to turn your relationship into one of mentorship. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with how things are progressing, set clear boundaries with your mentor (i.e., only meet so often). Make sure that both parties agree on what types of things can be discussed before meeting formally. If necessary, draw up an agenda or some ground rules ahead of time.

What do I do if I don’t have time for a mentor relationship?
Everyone is busy. I work a full-time job, I’m writing a book and a couple of other side projects, I teach part-time, etc. On top of all that, I have friends and family who need me from time to time. This doesn’t leave much time for one-on-one mentoring with another human being! Luckily, we can create our own mentorship opportunities by helping others. Volunteering at your local library or community center, reading children books at schools, teaching lessons at religious centers (assuming you share those beliefs), getting involved with your local coding guild or makerspace – these are all options that fit into your life regardless of whether you have a mentor or not. Find what works for you and go out there and make things happen. You might surprise yourself about how good it feels to give back to your community.

Tips on asking your boss to be your mentor.
First, when it comes to asking your boss to be your mentor, do it sooner rather than later. If you wait until you’re close to leaving your job, they may assume that you’re angling for a raise or promotion, which could put them off. Instead, make an informal offer before you need one – ideally while you’re still working on a project together. It won’t guarantee success, but it will help grease the wheels. Next, just be honest: let them know what skills you want to improve and explain why you think they can help (but don’t use cheesy flattery). And finally: If I were your student… OK, so maybe you shouldn’t say those exact words, but share with them how much more effective and competent you would feel if you learned from their expertise first-hand.

Top Ways to use your mentors effectively.
The most common and powerful way of learning is by example. When you spend time with your mentors, they can be a great source of knowledge. While it’s important that you find good mentors, it’s also important that you become an active learner and pay attention to what you can learn from them. Here are five ways that you can use your mentors effectively – Observe: You should study not only their work habits but also how they interact with others. Pay attention to everything—from how your mentor goes about her day-to-day tasks to her communication style (i.e., do you always meet for lunch or does she frequently text?) and body language. The more observant you are, the more insight you will gain into what works best for her—and what doesn’t! – Do as they say, not as they do: It’s easy to assume that people know what’s best for them because they’re doing exactly what’s expected of them. But in reality, there may be times when you feel confused if two seemingly contradictory pieces of advice contradict each other.

When should you let go of your mentor relationship?
Surrounding yourself with mentors who keep you accountable and teach you skills is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your career. But sometimes, that relationship just isn’t a good fit—you might have different goals or not share common interests. As long as your mentor is treating you with respect and helping improve your career, it’s okay to respectfully end a mentorship relationship. Letting go doesn’t mean you won’t be friends; if anything, leaving on a high note can make room for even stronger relationships down the road. According to its definition, network marketing (also known as multilevel marketing) lets people sell products – often dietary supplements, beauty products and cleaning supplies – directly to their friends, family members and other individual consumers. The salespeople are called distributors or consultants (or distributors for short). Network marketing differs from direct selling in that distributors typically don’t receive a salary but instead earn commissions based on their sales revenue.

Questions to ask yourself when deciding whether you should end the mentorship.
Do you feel valued by your mentor? Do you think that your mentor would recommend other people be mentored by you? Are there opportunities for growth and development available as a result of mentoring with your particular person? If not, then it’s time to move on. You are free to search for another mentor if you feel strongly about keeping their relationship open. Most mentorships can survive an occasional break, but frequent returns will only make it harder for both parties involved.

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