Blog Post #450 Mentoring IV

Blog Post #450 Mentoring IV

Continuing from yesterday – How to find a great mentor.

In this article from Forbes Magazine, about looking for a mentor, the article says:
“If someone has to ask the question [will you be my mentor], the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious.  The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.”

For example, let’s say you are a student at XYZ University thinking about majoring in accounting.  You hear that Professor Simione, from the Accounting Department at XYZ has written the #3 most successful accounting textbook.  You make an appointment to see Professor Simione through the department secretary and the first time you can meet with her is in two weeks.  In those two weeks, you read up on Professor Simione, you see the press releases from the book publisher, see her bio online and you get excited about meeting her.  Your appointment is at 2:00; and at 1:30 you are in a chair in the hallway outside her office – sitting nervously waiting. You can hear her on the phone as you sit in the hall.  

At 2:15 she opens her door and invites you in.  She is very cordial and welcomes you with a friendly greeting.  As you sit down, her phone rings and she says “I have to take this, it’s my publisher”.  You sit quietly for 15 minutes as she talks with her publisher.

She returns to you and says “Now, where were we?  Yes, you are interested in majoring in accounting.”  She goes on for a few minutes about how strong the program is at XYZ University, the percentage of those that pass the CPA exams on the first try out of the program, and some other information.  The phone rings. This time it is the department secretary and you hear Dr. Simione say “Send her down”. She again returns to you with a few more comments about accounting when there is a knock on the door.  She looks up and says “Hello Dr. Wilson.” She turns to you and apologetically says “I’m sorry, I can’t talk longer with you today. Hopefully, I gave you some ideas about accounting.” You leave and Dr. Wilson goes into her office, the door is closed and you are out in the hallway again, without getting to know Dr. Simione and without being able to ask her about being a mentor to you.

So, back to the drawing board.  You start attending the Accounting Society meetings and meet many of the members.  They have speakers from some of the local businesses come in to talk about their experience.  You make sure you get to know the guest speakers and ask them some questions (that is, you start networking with them.)  Be patient, eventually, you will ‘click’ with a person that will be a great mentor for you.

The article suggests that you have to be a person that the potential mentor would be glad to have.  Do you look studious? Are you reasonably dresses? Are you comfortable with that person and are they comfortable with you?  

The last suggestion from the article is:  “Finally, whenever you’re in a quandary about how to get help from someone, put yourself in their shoes.  If the tables were turned, what would you want to see from this individual asking for help? If you were inundated with requests for help every day, what type of person would YOU choose to assist, and why? Go out and become that person that others would love to support and nurture.”

There is an old adage “to make friends you have to be a friend first”.  Let the mentor feel comfortable with you, volunteer to help them with projects, work the relationship.

What do you think?

Have you had mentors?  How did you find them?


Posted by Bruce White

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