How to find a career mentor

When it comes to finding a sponsor to support your professional growth, there are some questions you should ask yourself first…

  1. Do I know what I need?
    Make sure you know which of the following forms of professional support will benefit you the most: 

    A mentor – someone to help you think through your career decisions and direction.
    A coach – someone to work with you on specific development areas.
    A sponsor – your advocate when you're not in the room.
     
  2. And for what purpose?
    Be clear about what you need a sponsor for: do you need advice on your career direction in general; help with a particular pitch or piece of work; or guidance on how to land a specific role? The kind of person you need for each of those three areas could be very different.
     
  3. Does the person understand me?
    You need to be sure that the person you choose has seen what you do or has worked with you; you can't expect someone to fight your corner if they don't know how you really operate.
     
  4. Do I know myself?
    Are you aware of what your brand identity is and how you want to develop it? If the person you work with has a different view, they may not be the right person; alternatively, you may need to rethink what you're really about and how you come across to others.
     
  5. Have I met them already?
    There may be someone in the background who has been your supporter for a while. Having a sponsor doesn't always require as formal a contract as you might need for a mentor or coach, who may offer more specific forms of assistance.


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