If you were offered the opportunity to have a highly influential partner as your mentor, how would you make sure you capitalised on this? This was the question I was asked a few months ago and this blog post contains some of the advice I gave.
1. Have and use a mentor
A mentor isn’t just there for Christmas. They are there to help you when you need it to progress your career. What differentiates highly successful professionals is that they normally always have a mentor AND they contact them regularly. Many highly successful professionals will work with both a mentor and external coach. In chapter 8 of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ we discuss the difference between a mentor and an external coach, plus the other members you will need in your own support team.
2. Get regular face time with your mentor
One-on-one quality time with your mentor is what truly makes for a deep and strong relationship. It can be so easy to let the relationship slide, particularly when you are busy or in an ‘all or nothing’ service line like insolvency. If you are in a transactional service stream like insolvency, you know it just takes one phone-call and a big job for you to ‘disappear’ out of the office for weeks on end. Highly successful professionals will get dates in their diary to spend time with their mentor at least once a quarter. Don’t be afraid to suggest times outside of the normal working day, e.g. meet for breakfast or after work for early dinner.
3. Set expectations for how the relationships will work and revisit them regularly
Working with a mentor is a two way process. The highly successful professional knows that for their relationship to work, both sides need to be in complete agreement about the ‘contract’ between them. Over time you will need to re-contract with your mentor to make sure that you are both gaining the benefit from the relationship. After all, as your career progresses your needs will change. (see our free guide from our career kitbag for how to make the most of your relationships with your mentor for help on contracting with your mentor)
4. Be honest and open
A mentor can’t advise you to the best of their ability unless you are truly open with them. If you have done the contracting right (see our free guide from our career kitbag for how to make the most of your relationships with your mentor for help on contracting with your mentor) you should feel safe and supported enough to speak your mind and be completely honest about your motives and desires.
5. Pick the right mentor
The most successful professionals will make sure that they pick a mentor who has the right level of influence to help progress their career. Whilst being able to have a positive relationship with your mentor is essential, it is of little use if they can’t help open doors for you.
6. Ask for their advice and evaluate the advice you get
There is no point in having a mentor if you don’t ask for their advice and opinion. But remember it is only their advice and opinion – it may not always be the right advice for you to take.
7. Involve them in your career planning
In Chapter 7 of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ we introduce you to the concept of career action planning. In effect your career action plan is your detailed plan of how you will achieve your career goals. The highly successful professional will be regularly updating and referring to a document such as this, as well as involving their mentor in creating the document. Your mentor will be able to temper your enthusiasm for what is achievable by helping you be more grounded in what is actually achievable in the time frame. To help you involve your mentor with your career planning download your free guide to building your own career action plan from our career kitbag, click here (email required)