Here at Career Girl Network, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of female mentoring, sponsoring, and supervisory relationships. The notion of women helping women is key when we’re talking about changing the ratios for women in business and getting us ahead as a total gender. That being said, though, it’s also important that all women reach out to and find great male mentors to build their careers. We’ll spend much of our careers working with men and leading men, and we must know not only how to work with the opposite sex, but how to lead and be led by them as well.
I learned this lesson the hard way, after spending years in nonprofit organizations where men can often be few and far between. I gravitated strongly to female mentors and had almost entirely female bosses. After a few years, I realized I had to make a concerted effort to add men to my circle, especially as mentors. From my own experience, I’m giving you tips on how to find and create a relationship with a male mentor:
- Father knows best. This may be a bit controversial, but it’s often what’s most natural. Look for someone who reminds you of your father and might be in the same age range as your dad. These kinds of mentors will often be leaps and bounds ahead of you in business, and because they may also be fathers themselves, it may be easier for them to see their children in your eyes as well. So look around your office and find that guy that feels most like dad. He might be a good place to start.
- Mind your manners. Relationships between men and women in business can be delicate. Countless women have thought they had a cordial relationship with a colleague until they get their ass pinched or a pass made at them. Take this into consideration from the beginning. You want to avoid even the most mundane appearance of impropriety. Keep your meetings as public lunches in places that are clearly business related.
- Ask your female bosses and mentors for recommendations. You don’t need to be secretive about wanting a male mentor. So go ahead and reach out to your trusted female mentors and be honest. “I’ve realized I could work harder at developing a better skill set working with men. Do you have a male colleague you might recommend as a good mentor for me?”
- Participate in a formal mentorship program. We recently told you how to find a formal mentorship program. When these programs are corporate sponsored specifically, for instance a program like Menttium, you’ll have the ability to request a male mentor. Do it!
Overall, to find a male mentor, you must start networking intentionally with men. In that intention, you’ll find great mentors — both male and female 00 who will guide you through your career.