The Art Of Mentorship & How To Connect With One

What do Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor and Lady Gaga all have in common? Great hair, a killer smile and an aspirational level of confidence? Perhaps…

What we’re really hinting at, however, is that these women all had mentor-mentee relationships that shaped them to become the women they are and helped to sky-rocket their careers beyond any imaginable success.

What exactly is a Mentor?

A good mentor is someone that sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps to bring it out of you. Similar to a teacher, mentors use their specialised knowledge to educate and motivate their less-experienced mentees through necessary learning processes.

More often than not, these lessons surpass common business advice, and aim to establish positive behaviours and success mindsets within an individual.

What is the difference between a Mentor and a Coach? 

You may already be familiar with the topic of coaching but how exactly does mentorship differ from it? 

Typically, coaching involves a short-term, time-bound relationship with an expert. The aim is usually performance-based, whereas mentorship takes on a holistic development-driven approach and often involves a long-term relationship.

Why having a Mentor is important

Having a mentor in your corner provides you with knowledge and support to overcome even the toughest business challenges. A mentorship can give you the competitive edge you need to level-up your #fempire through tried-and-tested advice.

What’s more, mentors often open doors to valuable networks and connections that could very likely lead to new client- and partnership relationships.

Every female founder holds their own strengths, and for this reason, a mentorship is an incredible way to individualise your passions and assist you to identify the unique challenges, opportunities and lessons you’ll need to attend to on your entrepreneurial journey.

How to Match with a Mentor

So, you’re ready to match with a mentor but don’t know where to start? Look no further! We’ve compiled some tips on how you can secure a valuable mentorship.

#1: Find your mentor

This goes without saying, but before reaching out, you’ll want to do your research as to who your ideal mentor is. Chances are, you can find a mentor in your direct network, so it’s worth considering previous bosses, colleagues, professors and other industry experts.

If, however, you’re leaning towards paying for a mentorship programme, take the time to research different groups and networks in your area or online.

#2: Ask for a meeting

You’ve found your mentor, now it’s time to reach out. This may present an intimidating challenge to most. In short, people are simply too afraid to ask for an initial meeting.

Don’t let fear of rejection get in the way and try to remember that the person you admire has been in the exact same position as you at one point or another!

Usually, the best way to reach out is through a short email. This can be as simple as introducing yourself, sharing one or two things you admire about their work and asking for a quick 15 to 30 minute virtual coffee break to discuss whatever it is you would like to learn from them.

#3: Time to connect

Perhaps the most vital part of mentorship is the connection between a mentor and mentee. Take the time to learn about the person and to connect on a human level.

Don’t jump right into asking for mentorship. Keep it cool, keep it casual. Consider this a trial run to see if you connect on some common ground. Towards the middle of the first meeting, start asking your burning career-orientated questions. And then finally, summarise the conversation and iterate that their advice has proven valuable to you.

#4 Remember to thank them

In a world where conscientiousness has become a rare commodity, following up with a thank you message or card will go a long way. Thank the person for their time and mention that you’d like to connect with them in the future.

#5 Follow Up

Roughly 4-5 weeks after your meeting, follow up to your potential mentor and ask whether they’d be willing to connect again. After a couple of meetings you should have a better understanding whether your mentorship is a good match. While there’s no need to formally ask for mentorship, put out some feelers and ask whether they’d be willing to provide you with more guidance.

#6 Pay it forward

As with most things in life, nothing is free. At some point or another, suggest helping your mentor in any way you can. One-sided relationships can very easily allude to a type of selfishness that you’ll want to avoid at all costs. 

At the end of the day, you want to ensure that your mentor knows you care about them as much as you expect them to care about you.

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