Many of the most successful people in business and life have had mentors - people who have helped, coached and advised them in their careers. So why does having a mentor make such a difference and how do you get one?
Catriona Pollard, the founder of Catriona Pollard Communications, has mentored numerous business people and graduates and sees this as an important part of her contribution to the business community. Here are her top five reasons why you need a mentor.
1. Mentoring cements a learning culture in your life
“We’re responsible for our own learning and by seeking a mentor you are creating an opportunity to grow, which is what you need if you really want to be successful,” says Catriona.
2. Mentoring is a great source of support and advice
Catriona says mentoring does not have to be formal – informal mentoring is also very valuable. “I have a group of business friends I can have a coffee or a catch up with. This isn’t really a formal mentoring process, it’s about seeking out people you trust and admire to provide support and advice.”
3. Formal mentoring assists with goal setting
According to Catriona, a formal mentoring relationship is a great way to set clear career path initiatives and goal setting. “It’s about creating a clear view of the future and what career success means to you. It also makes you accountable for your own career goals.”
4. Mentoring gives you inspiration… as well as perspective
“Spending time with someone you admire leads to better decision making,” says Catriona. “Someone else’s perspective can influence your own perspective and help you think outside the box,” she adds.
5. Mentoring is a great way to expand your networks
“Starting a mentoring relationship with someone outside your own sphere of influence is a great way to start mixing in a new area and also gives you the opportunity to influence your mentor’s peers. It can really help you access people you normally wouldn’t come into contact with and open up new career opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have,” she says.
There are a number of avenues you can follow if you’re looking for a mentor:
· If you work in a corporation: ask your HR department about formal mentoring programs the business has or ask for help in finding a mentor internally or externally.
· If you don’t work in a corporation (or even if you do): seek out people who inspire you.
· Find industry groups you can join that offer mentoring opportunities.
One of Catriona’s former mentorees is Gail Rast, who started her business, Life’s a Feast, three and a half years ago. The business offers cooking classes and other foodie events.
She says having Catriona mentor her was an excellent way of increasing her PR and marketing skills as the business developed. It also gave her motivation to keep going. “Catriona was someone I could talk to if things did not go the way I had hoped they would,” explains Gail.
“I was very lucky I found Catriona – she never gave up on me and was also quite tough. If it wasn’t for her I could easily have thrown in the towel because I didn’t realise how tough it would be to go out on my own.”