Why You Should ‘Date’ Your Mentor

Courtesy of Matt Prince
Courtesy of Matt Prince

Where are all the good mentors hiding? There are networking events, but how do you know if the established professional you’re interested in is looking for a mentee, or even ready for a mentorship? There are professional organizations that boast matching programs based on your interests and aspirations, but you’re looking for a deeper connection not a mentor of the month.

When it comes to the most important relationship of your career, a mentor can be the guiding light that encourages you to be a better person, both professionally and personally.  And, just as in dating, the most difficult part can be finding “the one.”  Yet, the similarities don’t end there. Both finding a mentor and dating involve taking risks, require a lot of emotional energy and can even lead to heartbreak. So, what if you dated your mentor? Let me re-phrase that. What if you used the same strategic approaches you use in dating to find a mentor?

Here are five dating tips to help you find the right mentor:

Know what you want.

It’s important to know what you want to get out of a mentor and mentorship. Know your professional goals and manage your expectations. Until you know what you want, you can’t find what you need.

There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Be picky — you deserve it. You owe it to yourself to make sure you don’t settle in any aspect of your life, and finding a mentor is no different.

Go out of your league.

Think someone is too busy to provide a mentorship? Too successful to devote their time to “some kid?” Just ask. The worst thing that could happen is that you hear a no. And you’d be surprised how little you’ll hear that word.

Find the other half that makes you whole.

Being with someone just like you won’t inspire you to grow. The goal in finding a true mentor is to meet someone who doesn’t just complement the person you are, but inspires you to be the person you want to be.

‘Tis better to have been mentored and lost than never to have never been mentored at all.

You’ll have mentor relationships that fail. That’s OK. Learn from them, and use that to your advantage the next time around. You’ll learn just as much — if not more — from the bad managers as you will from the good ones.

It’s important to remember mentorships are just like any relationship.  They take patience, risk and effort. If you’re willing to devote all three, you’ll gain a quality mentor that goes the distance.

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Matt Prince is PR and brand manager for Taco Bell and former social media manager at Disney. Inducted in to the PRSSA Hall of Fame and awarded the 2013 Teahan PRSSA Adviser of the year, Prince is the current president of the Orange County Chapter of PRSA. Follow Matt on Twitter and LinkedIn.

1 thought on “Why You Should ‘Date’ Your Mentor

    • Author gravatar

      I would have never thought about viewing mentorship relationships like dating relationships; what a concept. I am a senior public relations major and reading articles about the value of mentorship programs always makes me wish I had taken advantage of the system sooner. I don’t think mentorship relationships are properly explained or stressed enough to students and young professionals. As this blog post explains, there is so much you can gain from having a mentor, but mentorship programs are often overlooked and under appreciated. I think the comparison of mentorship to dating is an illustration that should be used when explaining the concept to college students because it really brings the impact of mentorship to life. Great read!

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