6 benefits of having a mentor
December 12, 2018 / Networking / Greg Atkinson
On your road to success, you’ll need some good travelling companions (a point discussed in more detail in our Reading Series). One such companion is a mentor, to guide, motivate, and help you in thousands of invaluable ways. Because as much as you know, you can always learn more. And as much as you can do, you’ll be able to do so much more with someone to help you. Here are 6 ways a good mentor can help you:
1) They can give you practical knowledge
Academic institutions and courses give you theoretical knowledge: history to help you understand the present, philosophical frameworks to help you make sense of data, and analytical methods to help you solve problems. However, all the theoretical knowledge in the world cannot beat practical experience, because the implementation of something is often very different from its theory. Just think of the example of baking a cake. Reading through the recipe is easy. And so theoretically are the instructions. But it takes a deft hand to avoid cracking bits of egg shell into the batter, or to eyeball ‘a splash of milk’ or a ‘dash of vanilla’. And certainly delicious, moist cakes are the result of someone actually getting their hands floury, rather than flipping the pages of a cookbook.
A good mentor can impart their own experiences to you, and give you opportunities to try your hand at something yourself. Instead of learning everything from scratch, you’ll have a fast track to success by heeding the advice of someone who’s been there and done that. You’ll also learn about potential dangers before the fact, not after you’ve suffered them yourself. A mentor can also create learning opportunities for you, allowing you to experiment and learn, while they’re on hand to help.
2) They can fast track your entry
Having a mentor could get you the proverbial foot in the door for a position or project that you’re eyeing. Your own abilities should be your major selling point. However, having someone more senior and experienced recommend you could clinch the deal. In fact, research shows that between 30%-50% of recruits in the US get hired thanks to a recommendation. It’s also no big stretch to assume that if a team leader personally requests you, you won’t have to compete with half the office to get on that big project. Although nepotism should never be condoned, a mentor can make the skills and qualities you have more visible. This translates into more opportunities for you.
3) They can introduce you to relevant people
You might be aware of a few useful contacts you’d like to have, but your mentor can put you in touch with people who’ve flown under your radar. There are plenty of reasons you might not be aware of this latter group: some people prefer to stay low-key; some people aren’t in your industry, but in a related one; and you might not have needed certain contacts before etc. As someone with more experience, and with more contacts than you, your mentor can suggest others who can help you.
As Kalido users, you and your mentor have plenty of useful features at your disposal. You can see each other’s contacts, making both your connections entirely transparent, instead of relying on chance mentions. If you see someone interesting your mentor knows, you can request an introduction to this person specifically. Your mentor can also see who you don’t know, and instead of assuming that you have the same connections as they do, they can fill in the gaps. The Introduction feature handles the entire introduction process in a couple of quick taps on your phone, and minimises any hassle or awkwardness.
4) They can give you advice
Chances are, the issues you’re struggling with now are similar to things your mentor has dealt with in the past. Even if the circumstances aren’t precisely the same, they’ll still be able to guide you on the right path. Your mentor might flag mistakes they made, so you can avoid doing the same. Or they can recommend a more nuanced and creative solution to ones you’ve been tossing around in your head.
Your mentor’s advice will fall broadly into 2 categories, both of which are useful. They may offer technical advice – better, faster, smarter ways of doing things. And they could offer social advice – how to deal with people, given your personality traits. Having someone who knows you well, including your likes, dislikes, and psychological and emotional blind spots, can help you navigate the quagmire of human relationships in both your professional and personal life.
Mentors are infinitely better than self-help books or courses, or gurus online. That’s because your mentor has a personal relationship with you. They care about you, and want you to succeed. They also know what’s keeping you from doing so. Maybe you get bogged down in minutiae and don’t see the big picture; maybe you have initial enthusiasm but struggle to follow through; maybe you’ve suffered a setback and are suffering from a crisis of confidence. Instead of sprouting one-size-fits-all advice, your mentor can advise you, based on your unique circumstances.
5) They can motivate you
Mentors can inspire you by being a role model to aspire to, and by encouraging you when you’re feeling down.
Your mentor will be someone you look up to, someone who’s achieved something you aspire to yourself. And seeing that it can be done, means there’s no reason you can’t do it too. And when you forget that, or find yourself in doubt, your mentor can ignite the fire in you to try harder.
6) They can teach you things no one else can
Your mentor has acquired a unique set of skills and experiences. It’s unlike anything anyone else in the world has. And that’s the skill and experience they can impart to you. When you combine everything your mentor can teach you with everything you already know now, and everything you can learn in the future – you’ll be formidable.
You may find you instinctively turn to one person when you encounter certain problems, and another for another set of problems. You may want a professional mentor, but have someone else guide your personal life. There’s no limit to the amount of mentors you can have at one time, or over time. The important thing is to be clear about what you want help with, and to accept this help graciously. Now, open Kalido and match with someone (or several someones) who can change your life for the better.