Our own JoAnne Williams (President/CEO) and Jessica Littrell (Senior VP) recently spoke on a panel for the Greater Sales & Marketing Council among other mentor/mentee pairs from Trumark Homes, TRI Point Homes, Vintage Design, and The New Home Company. This group of leading industry professionals shared first-hand how they’ve built lasting and influential relationships and insights on how mentees can be pro-active and take initiative to seek out the right mentor. We learned so much from this group, so we’re bringing this insight to you!
Whether you’re just starting your career or are a seasoned professional, having someone to consult and learn from is always beneficial. But how exactly can a mentor benefit you?
Imagine it’s your first day on the job and your boss tasks you with the creation of your department budget. You’re new and want to make a great first impression so you are eager to get it done. Only, you realize you don’t even know where to start! What format are they expecting? What on earth does xyz cost? How can you really wow the team with strategic and forward thinking even though you’re brand new? Is there a course you should be taking to learn more?
This is where a mentor comes in.
The basic definition of a mentor is a ‘trusted counselor or guide’. A mentor is someone you have a close professional relationship with who helps you grow and learn in your career and life. They will typically be a few rungs above you in the corporate ladder and should be someone whose accomplishments you admire & respect. The role of a mentor is dynamic and can change along with your needs. A mentor can be a coach, role model, counselor, trusted resource, voice of reason, and/or emotional support. They share knowledge and life experiences, offer encouragement, listen to your concerns, and help you reach your goals.
Mentors are capable of helping a mentee by:
Some of the best mentors can be found within your current atmosphere. Whether it’s at your company or within your industry, finding someone who already knows the ins and outs is ideal. The goal is to find a mentor who has already overcome many of the challenges you are currently or have yet to face, asking them the right questions, and embracing the relationship with intention and appreciation.
Start by finding someone you look up to. If you don’t already know this person, get to know them organically and see if this is the person you want to be your mentor (i.e. someone you think could help guide you through your career). The idea is to find someone who works in a similar role or field and would understand those specific challenges and obstacles. Often, many will choose a senior in their role or their own supervisor. You can also join online mentorship networks, attend networking events, or find industry meetups or membership groups that are typically full of impressive professionals who just might be thrilled to share their knowledge with someone who is eager to learn and grow.
Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to outright ask someone to be your mentor. Mentorships usually develop gradually and naturally as the mentee asks their mentor for guidance. If it is someone in your workplace, you can seek their advice as scenarios arise. If you have found someone elsewhere, it is typically best to ask them to coffee. Have some questions prepared, but keep the conversation organic and be respectful of their time. This is your opportunity to ask for their advice, share your goals or current challenges, and (hopefully) collaborate on how you can achieve your highest success and happiness.
Mentorship is all about what you put into in. It is less something you get and is more so something you do. It is all about listening to advice and learning from it. Mentors want mentees who present themselves as teachable and have the ability to adapt. Maintain a positive attitude and show that you are absorbing & applying their insight. For tips on how you can be more teachable, read these 6 Ways to be More Teachable in the Workplace. If you are open to what your mentor has to say and are respectful of their input & guidance, you will absolutely gain their trust and respect as a valuable mentee.