The first two steps of the mentor process are the easiest, but as with any relationship, this one also requires work and continued maintenance.
It is not always necessary to ask someone to be your mentor; however, formally acknowledging a person as your mentor can give them an open door to have greater influence and more input into your future than if they are unaware. As a professional woman, you may find that many potential mentors will not automatically take liberty to impart their wisdom unless they are asked. By formally requesting their mentorship, you create an open door for their guidance.
If you take time to reflect, you would likely realize there has been at least one informal mentor in your life already. A mentor is someone you spend time with; someone that advises, instructs, and corrects you. In order for a mentor to feel comfortable in this role, you need to engage them in your life. However, you do not want to impose on your mentor, so establish rules for engagement at the beginning to ensure there is enough communication to build a strong foundation. For instance, you may call your mentor once a week to discuss challenges or decisions you had to make. Ask if they have advice or would have done things differently. Meet face-to-face with your mentor at least once a month. In person meetings could include going to a conference, a community event, lunch, or sharing a common interest. Ask your mentor what books they have found helpful and read them, then discuss each book with your mentor. Each relationship is different, so work with your mentor to determine what works best for them.
Remember, as a professional woman, you are the driver of the relationship. You have the responsibility to initiate contact and continue the interaction. Don’t ask someone to be a mentor then never contact them again. As you grow, the mentorship will evolve; make it work for you!
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month! Now is a great time to plan an event or webinar for you and your mentor to attend together.
Pamela Shortt has a passion for helping people reach their potential. As the Dean of Business & Information Technologies at Forsyth Technical Community College, Ms. Shortt believes any challenge can be overcome with dedication, hard work, and a vision for the future.