The Secret to Finding Mentors or Sponsors|
Welcome to Levo’s Partnership Series! We’ll advise you on how you can find your partner in the office, whether you’re looking for a business partner, best friend, mentor, or even a significant other.
“Mentors and sponsors aren’t just handed down to you. You have to ask for it.”
That’s Erica Dhawan, a leadership expert, Gen Y speaker, and advisor to Fortune 500 companies, who recently spoke at a workshop held at Levo’s New York offices. In “Unlock the Secrets of Finding Mentors and Sponsors That Will Change Your World,” sponsored by The White House Project, Dhawan advised a group of Levo ladies on how to not only procure a mentor, but also make the relationship stick.
Most important, she says, is that when finding a mentor, you need to make like the Nike slogan and just do it. “‘It’s not only facing the fear [of asking someone to be your mentor], it’s also knowing who to ask,” she advised the room. “It’s a mix of planning, making a real connection, and then executing.” What follows are more of her tips.
So How Do You Get Started?
The first step is knowing the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. According to Dhawan, a mentor is a person whose highest value is what they say to you when you’re in the room with them, while a sponsor is someone whose highest value is what they say about you to other people when you’re not there.
But deciding on who you want your mentor or sponsor to be isn’t necessarily the hard part—it’s approaching that person(s) about being your guide. Dhawan offered four steps to help you accomplish that ask:
1. Plan: How can you approach this person? Where? When? What will you say? Just like a job interview, you want to go in prepared.
2. Bridge: Create some kind of meaningful connection. For example, you can follow up on a recent accomplishment of theirs, like an award or headline-making scoop or sale.
3. Close: Close the deal! With the hard part of the ”ask” over, you now need to follow up, which Dhawan says is critical.
4. Assess: Your final step is that once the relationship kicks off, you need to evaluate what you’re getting out of it. “It’s important to see what you want to renew and what you want to release,” Dhawan says. “Sometimes your career goals change.”
What to Do and What Not to Do
To close, Dhawan offered some do’s and don’ts:
…Build an intentional-to-mentor relationship
…Make sure your work gets noticed by your mentor
…Ask for feedback
…Sweat it if you get no response
…Always agree with your mentor
…Shy away from conflict or fear being outside your comfort zone
With all this great advice settling into everyone’s brain, Dhawan saved the best step for last: She asked everyone in the room to write down one action step they were going to take to build a mentoring relationship. And with that, everyone in the room was soon quickly scribbling away.
After reading this recap, do you have an action step in mind for finding a mentor? Tell us what it is in the comments.
Photo Courtesy of A Desordem.