Success is very rarely achieved alone. Instead, it is a product of multiple interrelated factors, such as support, advocacy, and receiving advice from the right people at the right time. More often than not, these above qualities are best found in mentors. Unfortunately, as more and more young professionals flood the workforce, the idea of finding a more experienced shoulder to lean on and glean insight from is quickly fading into the background.

However, we must shift our focus from encouraging these fresh faces from actively seeking mentors. Instead, we ought to encourage those with professional experience to step into such roles more freely, as they will not only be able to teach the next generation, but learn from them as well.

With that in mind, let us explore how one can effectively create and maintain strong mentor relationships.

Search your existing network

It is likely that you already work with, or at least know of, one or more young professionals in need of support. Therefore, the first step to becoming a mentor is getting to know each of these individuals. Take the time to discover their aspirations, goals, and learning styles. Once you have a better understanding of their long-term direction and goals, it will be much easier for you to engage with those you feel your expertise would benefit the most.

Be yourself

As a mentor, it is imperative you demonstrate every day that you are exactly who you say you are, rather than putting on airs and puffing up your previous experience to garner more awe and respect. This feat is achieved simply by being yourself. Behave, emote, dress, and speak exactly how you would normally. After all, authenticity and transparency are two key components to earning another’s trust.

Hold each other accountable

Sometimes, it is all too easy for these professional relationships to dissolve into average friendships. While this shift may be beneficial in interpersonal ways, it can seriously deter your ability to do more than simply pass advice back and forth.

Therefore, it is imperative you strive to maintain a strict balance between friendly banter and holding each other accountable for your actions and pursuit of professional development. Otherwise, your time and efforts leading up to this point may seem as though they served no purpose.

Clearly, there are plenty of stipulations to becoming a mentor, as it is not simply about forming a bond with another over work-related matters. Instead, mentorship provides a unique opportunity for mutual benefit and growth, meaning it ought to be treated with the utmost respect and seriousness.