Searching for the right fit in both business and personal relationships can be a challenge. Nowadays, many singles look to online dating as a preferred first step towards a romantic partnership. Photos and profiles of potential matches can be reviewed prior to a first date, allowing users to pre-determine who could be their Mr. or Miss Right.
Just like online dating, evaluating a suitable professional mentor or mentee can be difficult. We at ARA have held many speed-dating sessions to “set up” our mentor/mentee matches, although we understand that this environment can produce some anxiety in mentors and mentees alike. Needless to say, simultaneously trying to show your value while also evaluating the person across the table can be stressful. However, finding the right partner – both in business and romance – can be hugely rewarding. Here are some tips designed to help you find your dream match.
Seek a mutually-beneficial relationship – Many assume that the mentee will get the majority of the benefit from the mentor/mentee partnership. However, just like in a romantic coupling, the relationship must benefit both parties. If one person in the relationship feels like they aren’t getting anything out of it, the romance won’t last very long. ARA mentor Ewa Jackson, Agile Coach at Echo Global Logistics acknowledged the benefit of her mentorship role saying, “The ARA mentoring program provided me with an opportunity to make a connection with fellow women professionals in Chicago. I was very excited to learn that at this point in my career, I have gained enough experience to offer meaningful advice about managing career and personal milestones. So far, it has been a very rewarding opportunity, solidifying my desire to give back by sharing knowledge and being a sounding board to fellow female professionals.”
Choose honesty – It is tempting to fib (maybe just a little) when developing an online dating profile. However, the person with whom you are matched will eventually learn the truth. How do you backpedal when the Cubs fan you’re dating discovers that you secretly love the White Sox? The same thing applies to the mentorship relationship. The right mentor will appreciate your imperfections (even those like rooting for the White Sox), while helping you address any shortcomings that you feel are holding you back in your career. You don’t want to be with someone – professional or otherwise – who likes you under false pretenses.
Determine your wants and needs – On an online dating website, you can set search specifications for what type of match you’re looking for – non-smoker, athletic, education level, etc. When trying to identify a good mentorship match, you should also have an idea of what type of person would be most beneficial for your professional growth. Although we naturally tend to gravitate towards those who possess similar skills and personal attributes, try to be open-minded and “date around.” Sometimes the person who ends up being the best mentor/mentee may not fit the criteria you originally had in mind. After all, opposites attract, right?
Look for chemistry – Finding that magical connection is important in business and romance. On paper (or screen) it might look like the two of you are a match made in heaven. You share the same likes, interests, even frequent some of the same restaurants. However, once you meet, the spark just isn’t there. When chemistry exists, it just feels right.
Just like any relationship, a mentorship takes time and effort. If you are committed and engaged, you’ll get out as much as you put in.