Are you thankful for someone in your career? Great mentors are hard to find, and you need just one to give your career a huge boost. However, they are hard to come by and require a combination of luck and hard work to seek out. Thankfully, LinkedIn saw the value and has tapped into its many members to develop a mentorship program. This program has been one of the most underused functions on Linkedin, and here’s how you can do a lot more with it.
There are different types of mentor relationships. Having a clear understanding will help you choose the kind of mentor you want. They can be broadly categorized into three categories: Role Model, Support, and Advocate. If you choose a role model, you will have a mentor whom you look up to and aspire to be like. Generally, they need to be credible and would have achieved some success in their areas of expertise. A supportive mentor values and respects your abilities instead. They are easily approachable in times when the next step might not be obvious and genuinely look out for your best interests. An advocate is more vocal and will publicly show their support for you and help you receive exclusive opportunities from those that trust them. There is also a high possibility that your relationship with your mentor will evolve over the years. To get your role model to be supportive and finally advocate for you will typically take a minimum of five years.
Now that you have clearly defined the type of mentors available, you have a choice to make. This is not a case of “the more, the merrier,” as some of these mentors have conflicting advice and ideas of how to be successful. If you do not make a wise pick early on, you might end up lost in the sea of opinion, not knowing which ones to take. You need to determine what you want out of this mentorship first. While the industry always serves as a useful guide, it is not necessary in all cases to go with someone from the same field of work. For example, you could be a new dad trying to balance your work and family life. Your mentor, in this case, should have an incredible work ethic to pass on, and their industry will not matter. You can also use their experience as a gauge. It is advisable for them to have twice as many years of experience as you.
Once you have decided which mentor to build a professional relationship with, start doing extensive research on him or her. Look through your Linkedin profile and make sure it is polished, updated, and relevant to the mentor should they decide to look you up too. Mentorship takes time and effort, so you can be sure that these mentors will be selecting their mentees also. When sending your first message to them, use a specific and personal note that will let them know you have done your homework before connecting with them. If they do reply and indicate interest, be appreciative, and explain how exactly you hope to benefit from this mentorship. This sets clear expectations and allows your mentor to be honest about their worth to you. One common problem people face is expecting too much of their mentor, so being clear from the beginning will help avoid any misunderstandings.
Having a great mentor will fast track your success, as it points you in the right direction and saves you a whole bunch of avoidable mistakes. Linkedin has done the work in matching you up with suitable mentors, so don’t waste this opportunity, and find your next career boost from within.