Having a mentor can be a great way to help you progress in your career, build confidence, challenge yourself and develop new skills and experience. But how do you find one? If you’re lucky, you might realise there’s already great potential mentors in your current network that you can ask. But we’re aware that’s not the case for everyone, which is where FromSalford, our online alumni network, can help. Instantly connecting you to alumni living all over the world working in a broad spectrum of industries who have offered their support, it instantly offers a whole range of mentor opportunities.
To help you navigate the process of finding the right mentor for you, we spoke to seasoned mentor matching expert Hannah Wilson. Hannah runs the University of Salford’s mentoring programmes, including the Industry Advice Scheme which each year matches over 50 students with alumni mentors. Below you’ll find Hannah’s top tips and advice on how to find a great mentor match.
Before you begin seeking a mentor, make sure you’ve really considered what you want to get out of the relationship. Take the time to write down your career and development goals. This will give you a chance to consider how a mentor could help you achieve them and the type of skills, experience and professional network you’d ideally like them to have.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Once you’ve asked yourself why you’re seeking a mentor and what you want to achieve, you should find that you’re able to approach the search for a mentor with a broader mindset. For example, if you’re looking to change career track entirely, it’s unlikely you’re going to find a mentor who has experienced exactly the same transition you’re looking to make. However, most careers aren’t linear and there’ll be plenty of alumni out there who have made a large career change. Whatever their field or industry, they’ll be able to talk you through the process of making a career transition such as: considering how your skill set is transferable, facing the fear of the unknown and utilising your current network to create new opportunities.
And remember not to just consider a potential mentor’s skills and abilities when deciding if they’re the right fit. It may be that their wider professional network could provide some of the guidance and support you’re looking for.
It’s very rare that we match a student with an alumnus that is like them, in fact, it’s usually exactly the opposite! Consider your current friendships or relationship – most of us are drawn to people with traits that counter dominant elements of our personality. Keep that in mind during your search and initial conversations with potential mentors.
All relationships take time to develop, and mentoring relationships are no different. Don’t dismiss a potential mentor from the first message exchange or meeting. Give the relationship time to develop so you can both assess whether you’ll work well together and have a chance to get to know one another.
We always remind our students that if they’re asking an alumnus to invest time and energy into their development then it’s important that they’re treat them with respect by promptly replying to communications and keeping scheduled meetings. It may seem obvious but when you’re juggling the work/life/study balance, it’s easy to let a mentoring relationship slip. As with any relationship, you get out what you put in and we find it’s our mentees that fully commit to mentoring who reap the rewards, gaining their mentor’s industry contacts, job opportunities and much more.
THERE’S NO SECRET FORMULA
In my experience, there’s no secret formula to finding a perfect mentoring match for someone. A good mentor should challenge your perceptions, provide critical feedback and listen to your thoughts and ideas. But in the past few years, I’ve learnt that great mentors come in many forms and have a myriad of working styles. It’s often a case of trial and error in testing ways of working and of course there is an element of luck! Not everyone will find their first mentoring relationship will bear fruit but you may find their professional network can help or that it helps you identify what you’d be looking for in your next mentor.
READY TO FIND A MENTOR?
Then head over to your exclusive alumni and networking platform FromSalford. With over 2,000 alumni working in a wide range of sectors offering their support and guidance, you’re bound to find a match that’s right for you.
FromSalford‘s directory is designed to help, providing a number of ways to filter your search of the Alumni Directory, whether that’s by industry, location or the ways in which they can offer their support. During the month of February 2020, we’ve also pinned a ‘How to Find a Mentor’ video at the top of the FromSalford news feed, to help you get to grips with how things work.