By Jamé Jackson At any point in your career, you may hear that you’d greatly benefit by having a mentor. Well, there are definitely some do’s and don’ts you should keep in mind before you become someone’s mentor.
Don’t find a mentor simply for what they can do for you.
“A mentor is not someone who is just going to find you a job,” says Lauren Balsamo, Beauty editor at Hearst Women’s Beauty Group. “I get emails asking for advice—and then a job (in the same email). You need to establish a relationship first—then ask smart, thoughtful questions. It’s also important to be respectful of your mentor’s time.”
If you can’t find a mentor right in your field, who cares? Find someone you admire and want to emulate, and your growth can still happen. “I’ve gotten plenty of great career advice from women outside of the beauty and journalism fields,” says Balsamo
Do establish a real and organic relationship.
Now you’re wondering, So how am I suppose to do that? Well, the answer truly lies in you making the connections and connecting the dots. “It’s best to seek out any mutual acquaintances who can make a connection for you, but there’s a lot of power to a sincere, carefully crafted cold call through a LinkedIn message or email,” says Abby West, senior writer for Yahoo Celebrity. “More often than not, the person you want as a mentor isn’t doing those networking mixers, but if you have the opportunity to go to a true industry or company event, work on your ability to do an elevator pitch without it sounding like an elevator pitch. Be conversational (not feigning interest, finding real points of connection) while leaving impressions of what you do and your strong-suits. It takes practice.”
But don’t bog your mentor down.
“There is a way to stay on the mentor’s radar without being annoying,” West says. “Keep them informed about your moves, but be strategic when asking for their time or energy. Share without asking for anything more times than you ask for something. Show them through your actions your character and drive, so they feel like they know you and potentially have no qualms advocating for you either as a reference or in a social setting.”
Of course, every relationship is going to be different; map out how yours with your mentor is going to go and how it’ll look. “I have a mentor, but we may not speak for upwards of three months,” says Kai Thomas, an associate beauty editor at a media company. “It’s not that she’s not invested in my growth, but we both understand that she also has a life and is working to build up the corporate ladder. I always make sure to do check-ins with her, but I also know how to respect her space.” However, understand that a true mentor will be tapped into your growth. “She always checks on me when she can. I’ve almost become like a little sister to her, but I still like to keep things professional.”
Don’t assume the work stops once you’ve got a mentor.
“If you were dating someone, you wouldn’t stop putting in the work just because they’re now your boyfriend, right?” said Thomas. “The same thing goes for a mentor/mentee relationship. It requires dedication on both ends, and I feel sometimes mentees think they’re entitled to the mentor’s time. News flash: you’re not entitled to anything.”
Btw, did you know Ed2010 has a mentors program? It’s free — you just need to fill out the application and fit the requirements.
Jamé Jackson is a style and beauty editor, and founder of TheBlondeMisfit.com, a website geared toward women in the style, beauty, and entertainment industries. Based in New York City, she can also be seen spreading love, female empowerment, and her must-have beauty obsessions online and through her Instagram.