Finding the right mentor – connecting and learning

In the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about mentors and who shall be my next mentor. Have you ever had a relationship with a mentor you truly trust and who always will support you?

Being a professional working in an organisation or being an entrepreneur is complex. That is at least how it feels to me – and I am often playing with the thought that a new mentor is the answer. I think that someone else might have the answers to all my complex and simple questions.

Maybe I think a new mentor is the answer because I’ve had so many good in the past – I love my mentors I met in my life so far, and I am truly grateful for the people who have helped and supported me.

When I was in my early twenties I feared asking others for help and advice, but with maturity I realised how much I could learn from others.

In 2001, when networking was not as common as it is now and I was working with friends on our bachelor thesis at The School of Economics and Management, Lund University, (Topic: ‘Can you develop yourself professionally from networking?’), I attended many networking groups and interviewed networking experts. It was through this experience that I realised it’s the relationships in our lives that expand our view of the world.

I’ve learned that some people will have a huge impact on you and others will just pass by – that’s life. But when you make a good and solid connection with someone, I believe you should tap into their wisdom. We share our experiences and life gems with people we trust and care for.

…when you make a good and solid connection with someone, I believe you should tap into their wisdom.

My first proper mentorship experience was during the 12 month mentorship programme in Gothenburg with Junior Chamber International in 2005. I had been made redundant at Vodafone and felt a bit lost. I emailed Christer, who was the head of the mentorship programme, and explained my situation and that I needed work. He then said, ‘We are looking for a new area sales manager’.

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A few weeks later I had an interview at the company where he worked and got a job working with business development for Bureau Veritas. I had landed on my feet again and had a few weeks off in the summer.

During the twelve month mentorship programme, I had a mentor, Mats, with whom I built a great relationship. Mats had been a hotel director for 25 years and had served on the boards of many global hotel associations. He was also deeply involved in the business life of Gothenburg, Sweden (my hometown). Thanks to him I learnt a lot about the hospitality industry and how it’s changed over the years. I can ask him simple and complex questions about anything that has to do with career and the future.

When I did my career change in 2009 from working as a management consultant to becoming the first social media manager where I used to work, it was Mats who said:

‘Two years is not a long time in one job, but on the other hand, I know you quite well now and when you feel that you must do something new it’s time to take action. Without knowing much about what new job, I can only advise you to listen inside of yourself, and then follow the “voice”‘.

I followed my voice and got the job as social media manager and internal film producer.

Now when I am based in London, Mats and I are not meet up as often, but we have had breakfast in London when he was here for a conference and when I am in Sweden we also catch up every now and then.

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The mentorship programme taught me the benefits of having mentors and advisors. So now I find mentors and advisors in each new situation and I encourage others to do the same. We can learn so much more from these situations than we do in formal training.

Looking back at my question about finding a new mentor. I’ve paused in my search for a new mentor. Right now I need to relax and find my own inner mentor. You know that voice of guidance that always will be there for you in any situation and whatever you are up to.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Thank you for reading,

Sofie Sandell

You can connect with me on Twitter