How to find your ideal business mentor

Mentoring is something that everyone will come across in their life, most probably because they need some help and guidance, but also from the mentor side, because they want to help others and both parties always benefit.

At the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout event Joanne Rose who has worked at Centrica for 27 years, gave her advice and knowledge on when to know you need a mentor and what to look for in one, as not everyone is right for you – it is not one mentor fits all.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a partnership between two people built on trust. It is confidential, and should be a safe environment to discuss work and career challenges and explore situations.

Rose explained: “A lot of the time women are not reaching their full potential, so you need an outsider’s point of view that can see your full potential and put you on the journey to reach it.”

The key to finding the right mentor is looking for someone with an alternative perspective to you, that will help you achieve the best possible outcome, after all, you know what they say – opposites attract!

Rose also emphasised that it is imperative that you are honest with your mentor, as they cannot help a version of you that does not yet exist. “You will be out of your comfort zone, but that’s when you will be able to go the furthest.”

Responsible leaders share their failures without an apology because they get up, rather than give up. Rose added: “As ladies and young girls growing up in my generation we were taught to wait until we were asked, and then do as we are told. But my advice is don’t wait to be asked to be a mentor, put yourself out there and you will feel empowered.”

This partnership isn’t all about the mentee either, mentors can learn a lot about themselves and end up on their own little journey.

Where can I find one?

The best place to look is within your organisation, industry or social group.

You can also look on:

  • LinkedIn
  • Mentoring Programmes
  • Meetup Groups

Once finding a potential mentor, what happens next? Rose explained: “You will have your first meeting, which can be scary and daunting but there are some tips to help in your first meeting.”

  • You may want to know each other beforehand, a phone call, a few emails
  • Be curious, ask a lot of questions and find out about your mentor’s career journey
  • Be flexible – there will be natural twists and turns in the journey
  • Maybe set yourselves a rough agenda for the first meeting and share it with each other

Rose explained this may not be for everyone: “But if this still doesn’t feel like the right time, or right situation for you, there are also plenty of people in the public eye that will be able to give you insights, ideas and expertise without that personal one-to-one connection. There are lots of channels on YouTube, and Ted Talks.”

She added: “Yes, this is not quite the conventional mentoring, not a two-way relationship, but it will still impact you.”

Finding a mentor is a vital part of your career, and startup tool kit.