What is a mentor?
Learn what a mentor is and how you can find the best one to help you reach your professional goals.
- A mentor is a seasoned professional who informally helps guide a lesser experienced person in their professional endeavors.
- A mentorship is mutually beneficial for the mentor and mentee.
- Find an experienced mentor in your network and industry that holds your same values.
- This article is for anyone looking for a mentor to help develop their professional skills.
Personal and professional development is important for everyone to achieve – one such relationship that can help those with lesser experience hone their professional skills is a mentorship. If you fall into this category, it is important to have a good understanding of what a mentor is, what qualities they have, and how to find and develop a great mentorship relationship.
What is a mentor?
A mentorship is a mutually beneficial professional relationship in which an experienced individual (the mentor) imparts knowledge, expertise and wisdom to a less experienced person (the mentee), while simultaneously honing their mentoring skills. An effective mentor can professionally guide the mentee while maintaining a friendly and supportive relationship. A mentor should always have the mentee’s best interests in mind and tailor their mentorship style to meet the needs of the mentee.
Anyone looking for a mentor should keep these three things in mind:
- Define what you want out of your career and what you need to learn to get there.
- Approach a mentor relationship as if it’s a business friendship – be casual and friendly, and try not to ask weird questions like, “Will you be my mentor?”
- Start with your own professional network. We often already have mentors who provide advice in various ways, and all it takes is a little effort from us to grow that connection into an ongoing relationship.
What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?
Many people confuse coaching and mentoring; however, they are different relationships with different purposes.
Coaching is generally a short-term personal relationship between two people in which the coach uses thought-provoking and creative strategies to help the client develop personally or professionally. On the other hand, a mentorship is a longer relationship – generally a year or more – that is mutually beneficial. The mentor helps the mentee develop professional skills or expertise, and the mentee allows the mentor to develop their leadership skills.