Key to success? Find a mentor.

The quickest way to accelerate your career is to find a mentor. Some companies have programs that pair newbies with senior members so they can help grow talent from within. I’ve known about mentors for a while; it’s one of my full-proof-go-to strategies when starting with a new team. Having someone to vouch for you and bail you out is priceless. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can simply ignore the mentor. Just because you aren’t compensating them doesn’t mean you don’t owe them. Instead, you pay the mentor back with your accomplishments. The time they invest in you should reap some reward. It can manifest in your growth of character or career. Either way, they should feel like the time they spent with you was worthwhile.  

This past January was National Mentoring Month, but you don’t need a specific month to reach out and find a mentor. (Also, simply because you move on or move up doesn’t mean you need to get rid of past mentors!) Building relationships with people who you view as successful and influential will help you achieve your own success. 

To get started, you need to consider the following:

What’s your end goal? What do you hope to gain from this? 

Before you approach anyone, you should have a clear idea of what you want to get out of that relationship. This isn’t 6th grade, so you don’t need to dance around eggshells. Respect the mentor’s time by explaining why you’d like them to mentor you and what you hope to gain from it.

Not every mentor needs to be directly related to your career. 

My current mentor is impressive. She’s SO intelligent that just talking to her makes me feel like I’ve leveled up. That being said, I have no desire to follow her path. She is blazing trails, and I’m happy with where I’m currently headed. However, her personality and insight into the minds of other business people are not only fascinating but extremely helpful. Sometimes the best mentor for you isn’t one who’s on the same career path as you. Be creative, think outside the box.

Ask someone! 

This is simple, but people usually fall out at this step. You need to approach the person you’d like to be your mentor. Remember that this isn’t just you going to them for advice when you have a bad day. You’re asking this person to give up their time to help you grow as an individual.

Set a clear goal and plan to help you achieve success. 

Be clear on scheduling and the availability of your mentor. Set up a regular meeting schedule, whether it be at the office or over drinks. Just make sure you check in with them regularly so they know how you’re doing and how they can help. If your company doesn’t have a mentoring program, try looking for a public program like Score. You may not get a mentor on your first try, but it’s worth keeping at it until you do.