Looking for a mentor? You’re not alone. Most of us want to know the secrets to building a relationship with someone who can advise our career path, answer our on-the-job questions, and maybe even help us land the next big thing.
If you’re struggling to find “the one,” we’ve got the fix for you. LinkedIn recently featured essays from users and influencers alike under the hashtag #ThankYouMentor. Professionals from all walks of life shared stories about their own mentee-mentor relationships, and what you should look for in yours.
Here are a few of our favorite tidbits.
1. Your Mentor Should Have a Career Path You Want to Follow
My advice for finding the ideal mentor is to find someone you want to be like. You won’t become them exactly, but it will help you take the actions necessary to get where you want in your particular life’s path.
The best mentors will tell you not to be a carbon copy of themselves. Instead, they’ll explain how they got to where they are. Ideally, what you’ll learn is not to do exactly what they did, but to reach the similar milestones by focusing on your own strengths and weaknesses.
2. Your Mentor Should Have Flaws
My mentor isn’t perfect. Guess what? Neither am I. And that’s what makes our relationship real. You don’t have to be perfect to be a great mentor. You can be exactly yourself, who you are in real life. You don’t have to wait for the moment where you feel like you have the most to offer.
Everyone has flaws. You should expect that your mentor will have some, too. Instead of focusing your efforts on finding the perfect person to guide you through your career, understand that while no one has an impeccable track record, every single person has something to offer.
3. Your Mentor Should Help You—and Not Just Flatter You
What is a mentor? It’s just another label. As Donna Karan aptly states in the foreword of my book LEAVE YOUR MARK, ‘Mentors aren’t there to flatter you; they’re there to help you.’
Wise words from DKNY PR GIRL Aliza Licht’s own mentor.
In a mentor, you want someone who’s going to be honest, not just about your career choices, but how you come off in professional settings. When you’re looking for someone to be your first call or email in a sticky situation, think about who’s going to give you the best advice, not who’s going to stroke your ego. You’ll get the best advice that way.
4. Your Mentor Shouldn’t Be Your Only Mentor
Stop the ‘will you be my mentor?’ emails and start being present to embrace the learning opportunities all around you. Ask your colleagues and executive team members for their points of view. Seek advice from your direct leader or leader once removed.
There are so many great people out there with an infinite number of lessons to teach. Instead of trying to find a single all-knowing person, build an army of supporters who can get you where you want to go.
What else do you think is important when you’re looking for a good mentor? Let me know on Twitter!