Mentor- The NeedWho is a mentor?A mentor is your sounding board. A mentor can help you steer in the right direction,while not dominating your decisions.A mentor can be someone who: • Has enough experience in the domain and expertise in project management • Understands what you expect from your profession • Makes you comfortable enough to discuss your failures • Does not judge you
Mentor- Do You Need One?Firstly, figure out why you are looking for a mentor? Write down the 3 main reasons behind it.• Are you looking for guidance?• What kind of guidance would you need? (example- related to your domain, enhance your softskills etc)• Would you prefer your mentor to be from the same city? Does your mentoring need emphasison local work culture?• Do you need a mentor that you can meet over once in a while?• Is gender important while trying to find your mentor (would need guidance in specific issueswomen and networking to grow your career)?• Do you have a plan on the goals you want to achieve with your mentor?
Mentor- Where should I look?• Your connections liked LinkedIn groups, forums, friends and peers – Look for someone who is atleast 5 years senior than you in terms of role and experience.• Social Media- if you are well connected tweeting or blogging about it also can find you amentor. Don’t forget to use the hashtag like #PMOT .• Find more than one mentor- Its perfectly ok to talk to 3-5 people at the same time to be yourmentor. Remember, you want to benefit from this relationship, so its perfectly ok to evaluatethem.• Narrow down to one- You can begin the mentoring session with more than one mentor, it willhelp you compare the sessions. Evaluate who helps you lean more and has more inputs. Finallychoose the one whom you think is the more compatible to your goals.• Don’t feel the guilt- You are not turning anyone away, you can always be honest and say thatyou are in the phase where you are talking with more than one person to find the mentor youneed. In time, some will leave and not call back, some will realize it’s not working out and thatone person will stick around.
Mentor-The checklist•Be clear about what you expect from a mentor.• Try to find a mentor working in your domain.• Look for a mentor in your LinkedIn connections, professional networks or even by using socialmedia.• Once you have found them, go over their LinkedIn profile. It’s very important to know yourmentors professional success and direction and to see if that’s what you would like to replicate.• The first few conversations are crucial for establishing a relationship, bonding and agreeing onhow you will work together. Your comfort and compatibility will depend on these initialinteractions.• Make a list of points you would like to discuss during your next call. Emailing them ahead oftime might be good idea as well, so your mentor can streamline the discussion. Your mentor’stime is really valuable, so make the most of it.• Start looking for another mentor, if things aren’t working out. Gender is usually not importantwhile looking for a mentor unless you are trying to resolve gender specific professional issues.
Mentor-How do you know you have found the right one?A good mentor usually:•Understands you better and will point out simple things that can improve your professional lifeimmensely.•Will advise you, steer you towards the right direction but never will dominate over you. Theright to take decision always remains with you.•Mentoring sessions are two way street.•Is willing to work with you and not against you. The objective of being a mentor is to make youbetter; not drain off your confidence
Your First Session•Find out as much as you can about your mentor through your own research and askingquestions. Read up their blog if they have one, it will help you understand their area of interest.• Write down questions that you have about his background and journey into the world ofproject management.• Where do you think your mentor can help you based on his expertise?• Which is the area you think, you need help with (example: handling stakeholders, conflictresolution)• Can you come up with real life incidents from your project to back up your problems? Thisallows the mentor to understand the problem better.• Tell about your self in 5 sentences. Elaborate when asked.• How do you want the sessions to happen? Once a month over a Skype call or meet in person inStarbucks?• What are your mentors plan to work with you? Why is he doing it? Is he/she willing to help orare they getting PDU’s in return?• Keep your first meeting short, not more than 30 minutes.
First Session- the outcome• Did you enjoy the first session? Write down 3 things you thought was helpful about yourmentor.• Were you comfortable in discussing your career or problems you have been facing?• Did the mentor make you feel positive and good about yourself?• What are the areas he agreed to help you with? Did it cover your expectations?• Did he schedule the next call or told you he or she would email soon and let you know? Second Session- Start talking about goals• Throw out some problem and let your mentor tackle it.• Keep an open mind and listen• You will surprise yourself, how much a mentor understands you in a matter of months andcomes up with perfect solutions. You didn’t see this coming• Always ask permission to email or call, Mentors are busy people, just because he/she sharedhis number, don’t randomly call them up. Email to set up a time and then call.
Relationship BuildingAfter a few sessions you will be comfortable discussing your goals and problems with yourmentor. If this is not true, please start looking for another.Your goal should be to :• Start building trust- share your weaknesses to start working on them.• Thank them- thank your mentor over time, buy them coffee or just send them a heart feltemail. Remember they have equally invested in your career, they want you to succeed.• Is this a two way street- what is your mentor getting from the sessions? How can you help him?