Choosing a Mentor in Your Industry

Guest written by Abigail Gildon. Having a mentor is vitally important to career development and progression. But how should you choose the best mentor in your industry?

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Back in 1624, John Donne wrote the infamous quote, ‘No man is an island.’ Centuries later, this famous line continues to ring true. Everyone, throughout their lives, has at one point or another relied on the guidance of other people to learn new things and pursue their dreams, and the concept of mentorship remains universal. Because having a mentor means being able to rely on someone to provide you with the knowledge, skills, and experiences instrumental to your success, mentors are necessary at any point in your career. As you grow older and venture into specific career paths and varied industries, finding a mentor can be a challenge, but the benefits are still worth it:

Benefits of having a mentor

Having a mentor is essential to one’s success for multiple reasons. For small business owners, they often get so immersed in working in the business that they forget to work on the business. Through the guidance of a mentor, small business owners can go beyond just the day-to-day management of their companies and think of long term goals, as noted by Inc.

Hardships and downtime are inevitable, whether you are working for a company or putting up your own. At times, these challenges seem way too hard—so much so that you might lose your footing. A mentor that can re-inspire and motivate you is essential to help get you going and working towards your goals.

It is easy to grow blind to things you see on a regular basis, which is why it is always beneficial to have someone able to offer a fresh take on things. Hypepotamus notes that a mentor who can provide a fresh perspective and impartial opinion of your work or business is essential for an individual or a business to continue to grow.

Things to look for in choosing a mentor

Experience and expertise

The primary role of your mentor is to guide you and provide you with valuable advice and lessons, as mentioned by the Medium. A mentor who made their fair share of mistakes, taken multiple risks, tried out plenty of new things and emerged from the journey for the better will not only be able to give you quality advice but also a unique point of view. Moreover, as the advice is coming from someone who has experienced your struggles firsthand, you know that it's advice you can trust.

Apart from experience, you should also consider the expertise of your mentor. In fields such as digital marketing, keeping on top of trends and strategies are of the utmost importance. For instance, Ayima Kickstart points out that unique data can help decision-makers understand their market and audience better. Having a mentor who is familiar with the latest trends and strategies and is equipped with the skills needed in order to successfully adapt to change will help you (and your business) keep up and stay relevant.

Challenge and connection

People and companies alike are strengthened and developed by challenges. Those who can thrive and emerge successful are those who didn’t shy away from challenges and, instead, faced them head-on. As reported by The Balance Careers, everyone has a zone in which they work and live in. However, for one to grow, one must leave this zone and expand it. For this, it is essential to have a mentor that continuously challenges you and encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone.

Aside from someone who encourages you to challenge yourself, a mentor must also be someone who has great connections—not just with you, but with other industry experts as well. In our post on ‘How to Find a Mentor’, we highlighted how professional connections or networks can be a great way to grow your career, as well as meet like-minded people within your industry. A mentor who has a diverse and broad network will not only link you to opportunities but also help you understand the field better by allowing you to form your own connections with others in the same industry.

Compatibility and contrast

As someone who will be your guide, mentors are expected to be work closely with you. They will serve as your confidante and discuss with you every success and failure you encounter. A mentor-mentee relationship that is incompatible right off the bat will end up feeling forced or strained, according to a post by Forbes. Later on, such issues can pose challenges in communication and your mentor-mentee relationship as a whole. As such, it is crucial to have a mentor that is compatible with you. However, it is also very important that you choose a mentor who is in contrast with you.

Contrary to popular belief, your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same exact field as you. At times insights from a totally different or unfamiliar perspective can help you gain the most out of an issue or situation. The concept of contrast isn’t isolated to your respective professions: a mentor who is different from you, whether it is in gender, race, personality, or any other thing that differentiates you, will be able to provide you with insights that may have never even crossed your mind. Business News Daily states that what really matters is that you and your mentor share the same values when it comes to leadership and management, because at the end of the day, this will determine how successful your mentorship will be.
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