How women in the workplace can find mentors
Compared to their male peers, women have an uphill battle on the road to professional success. Despite research showing that when women have a seat at the C-level table, better decisions are made, there is still a glaring absence of women in corporate leadership positions. Mentoring is one of the key ways that we can help close the gap between the number of women vs. men in senior roles.
There need to be more people in positions of leadership actively supporting and guiding the careers of women early in their careers. Mentoring provides younger women with the opportunity to network, build professional relationships, and establish career goals. Particularly in male-dominated professions, women need strong mentors to help bolster their confidence and assist them in navigating the political landscape.
If having a mentor is such an important driver of professional success, you’re probably wondering how you can find one. Some companies have established mentoring programs that pair mentees and mentors but, if you’re looking to find one on your own, there are some tips to help you find a great mentor.
Have a Vision
First of all, you have to know what, and who, you want. Have a clear vision of what you’re trying to learn or obtain and who might be able to help you. For example, if you’re an aspiring account manager, you might know that you want to establish a footprint in a certain industry, like technology. You should focus on finding a mentor who is also in this space and who has the expertise you’re seeking.
To find a mentor, you have to put yourself out there. Go to industry events that attract like-minded professionals and keep an open mind. No one like to feel like they’re aggressively being pursued as a means-to-an-end, so when you’re networking, try to establish authentic relationships and let a mentoring connection develop naturally.
If you’ve been lucky enough to meet someone who you think would be a great mentor, make sure to keep the communication going. Follow-up with them regularly, share information that you think they would find interesting and ask them for advice when you need it. Eventually, your mentoring relationship may need to be formalized and you’ll want to ask them if they would be willing to be your mentor. At that point, you can both outline your expectations and set any guidelines around the frequency of meetings and topics of discussion.
As the mentee in the relationship, you might feel as though you have nothing to contribute. However, it’s likely that you have a lot to offer your mentor, be it a different perspective or specialized knowledge. Mentors are looking for someone who they can engage with over a shared interest. You should feel confident when offering your opinions as you will likely help your mentor consider new perspectives.
It is extremely beneficial for women who are early in their careers to seek out advice and guidance from people in the leadership positions that they hope to attain. Finding a mentor who can help you navigate the corporate ladder will help you climb your way to career success and professional growth.