There are lots of great reasons to get an internal mentor. They understand your company culture and the context of your business, and they know internal hiring managers. They can help you navigate your company easier, explore and take on new functions, accelerate your advancement within the org, and decide whether or not to try the management route.
When you reach out to a potential mentor, they'll want to know what you need their help with, why you think they're the right ones to help you, and what they're committing to. So, check out my post on the 5 things everyone should know about mentorship before you start your mentor search!
Once you're ready to find your mentor, here’s the game plan:
Take advantage of internal mentorship programs.
Several companies have formal mentorship programs that can allow you to connect with mentors outside of your immediate network.
→ Ask your managers, HR and Learning & Development (L&D) departments, or coworkers about such mentorship programs.
→ Reach out to Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) - such as women’s groups or black employees’ groups - about formal mentorship programs.
If your company doesn't have a formal mentorship program, here’s what you do:
→ Reach out to internal employees whom you admire and/or are in positions you’d like to reach someday.
→ Have clear goals, and know what you want to learn before approaching them. Have specific and time-bound asks.
Example: "I admire that you tripled your team’s revenue in a year. Are you open to meeting with me once a month for the next three months to go over sales management? This will help me build an effective sales team and exceed our quotas."
→ To be able to deliver asks clearly, you need to start by determining your goals and then working backwards. I recommend reflecting on the questions below, to identify and articulate your goals.
- What do you want to get better at in the next 6-12 months?
- What’s your next career step?
- What networks or skills do you need for that next step?
- Identify someone you've admired from a distance and ask yourself "How do I want to emulate them?"
- Ask your manager what they perceive as your areas of strengths and improvement.
→ Lastly, remember that you can always be a pioneer and start a mentoring program at your company!
In fact, this is how our CEO started her journey building a mentorship program for her peers when working at LinkedIn, which lead her to start Next Play. If you want to start a mentorship program, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to share our learnings.