Be honest with yourself.
The network leadership insider is an online community where most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to questions in a timely manner on careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you find a mentor? is written by Bill Ingram, vice president of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Social.
In the highly competitive world of business today, having a mentor can mean the difference between success and failure. For those seeking professional growth, mentors can be one of the most valuable resources you can draw on to provide advice, guidance, support, strategic feedback, and often a new perspective to a question.
In a recent survey of 45 CEOs who have had mentors, 84% said that mentoring relationships have helped avoid costly mistakes and learn ideas in their careers more quickly. At best, mentors can help you unlock your potential, garner full otherwise inaccessible knowledge about your industry or specialty, and to withstand setbacks without losing sight or trust. Choosing the wrong mentor, on the other hand, can lead to an unproductive frustrating relationship you will not move closer to achieving your career goals, which could cut a connection. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years to find the right mentor and forge a constructive relationship edifying
A mentor should inspire you to improve
Nobody’s perfect, and your first step to finding a mentor is self-awareness. Be honest with yourself, and to determine the exact area (s) you need to improve in order to thrive in your professional life. Your mentor should be someone who excels not only in these areas but also encourages you to do the same. One of my early mentors was a masterful manager organization whose influence is still with me today. Are you looking to be a more effective communicator? Then look for people that make you think, “I wish I could express myself like that at meetings.” Do you need to build your management skill set? Then find someone who shows these capabilities into your eyes.
Be clear about what you want and do not sweeten
Before you jump into a relationship mentor / mentee, you must be honest about your expectations. What are your goals and why do you think this person can help you achieve them? Honesty is critical, especially at this early stage. Do not tell your potential mentor what you think he or she wants to hear. Speak your mind, and decide together if this relationship is beneficial to both parties.
There is such a thing as too known
If you are a recent college graduate just entering the labor market, it is unlikely that the C- following is the right mentor for this stage of your career. Whatever your position, look for someone who can walk in your shoes, and to understand or empathize with the specific challenges you face. As a mentor, some of my most productive relationships have been with people a couple of levels below me to my organization. At the same time, pay attention to colleagues who approach too much like a resume. These relationships can easily become competitive dynamic that benefits neither of you.
Look for someone who shares your passion and problem
Although an effective mentor must obviously be enthusiastic about you and your career, one of the best ways to ensure excitement bases the relationship on a common interest. So ask yourself, “What problem am I solving passionate?” Perhaps a challenge for your organization or industry. Perhaps a social issue, such as education. Whatever the problem might be, look for someone who is trying to solve and ask to be involved.
Earn the respect of your mentor
From the viewpoint of a mentor, you are an investment that will not necessarily be profitable. If you want the relationship to thrive, you have to win. This means removing your ego when your mentor provides critical that you prefer not to hear, and do your best to trust this person when his advice contradicts your own judgment. You should also treat the attention of your mentor as a valuable resource, so be sure to have a plan for each meeting. This way, you get the most out of every interaction without losing time.
This post first appeared on Fortune.com and can be found here.