Mentoring

Six ways to find a mentor

Brancher co-founder Holly Brailsford shares her tips on finding an informal mentor.

By Tatiana Carter

The media industry has gone through dramatic changes in the past decade. For professionals across Australia, finding a mentor to help them navigate their careers has never been more valuable.

Registered psychologist and Brancher co-founder Holly Brailsford points out mentoring opportunities have become boundless. New technology and online communication have made it possible for mentees to connect with potential mentors across the world.

“We’re no longer restricted by our geographical location,” Brailsford said.

“When looking for a mentor, making use of social media may provide new opportunities for connection.

“An upside of last year is that it really encouraged us to make use of technology. No longer are you restricted to having a mentor in the same city as you.

“Why can’t you reach out to a mentor in New York, or in London, or even in Singapore?”

While social media has created new opportunities to find the perfect mentor, Brailsford stresses the importance of chemistry.

“Finding someone who you truly click with is the most important thing, because I think often people will jump on to LinkedIn and ask a person to be their mentor based on their resume,” she said.

“What you can’t see on LinkedIn is whether or not you’re going to have complementary personality styles and values. It means having a mentor who will stretch, develop and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.”

Holly Brailsford

Brancher Co-founder

The lack of a formal mentoring program in some workplaces means that media professionals need to take the extra step to find someone to support them.

Brailsford shares her top tips on how to secure the ideal mentor:

1. Think about what you want from a mentor before trying to find one.

Get really clear on your goals and objectives – whether that be the desire to learn more about a particular industry because you are changing into a new role, maybe you want to become a better leader, or maybe you want to find a better work-life balance, get clear on your goals.”

2. Make sure you are ready to commit to the role of a great mentee.

“What I mean by this is, ensure you have the time, capacity and head space, and mental commitment to be able to set up and really own the mentoring relationship – make sure you can maximise the precious time that you’re getting from a mentor. Ideally, to make the most of the relationship, you would be meeting once a month.”

3. Reach out to your connections to find your mentor.

“Now we’re getting to the point where you actually find that mentor. Scan your existing network, reach out to your second-degree connections, and utilise social media to find new connections through Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.”

4. Reach out with a personalised message.

“Ensure when you reach out that you have a personalised message, they’ll be much likelier to respond if it’s really personalised and has an emotional hook. For instance, having read a piece they’ve written and commenting on it or making them feel like you are genuinely interested… which hopefully you are if you’re reaching out to them.”

5. Be persistent!

“I think there is a fine balance between being persistent and being that annoying person. Just because someone hasn’t responded to you straight away, don’t be scared, follow up. Everyone’s busy these days so just make sure you are confident and backing yourself – make sure you follow up a couple of times before moving on.

6. Sign up for WiM’s mentoring program.

The Women in Media mentoring program is offered exclusively to members. The program is designed for all women working in media including journalists, PR professionals, and corporate affairs.

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