Subscribe to our Blog

Mentors in Consulting: Why You Need Them and How to Find the One

Blog Categories:
Published:
December 16, 2021
Reading Time:
10 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Do you know what most successful consultants have in common?

Well, if your answer is ‘talent’, ‘hard work’, ‘skills’, etc., then you’re not necessarily wrong. But there is one more very crucial commonality that differentiates the best from the rest—they have mentors.

This is not just a consulting industry trend, people often find a mentor for business, sports, education, relationships, and the list goes on.

Oftentimes, you don’t even realize how much you’re missing until you work with a mentor. A mentor in consulting can teach you everything from data collection methods to forging new business relations with blue-chip clients.

I am not saying that you cannot learn these things on your own. You surely can. But think of it like this: Suppose you’ve never driven a car before. Now, you’re in the driver’s seat and trying to learn how to reverse a car in your driveway. In this scenario, would it not be better if you had an experienced driver next to you?

That’s mentorship in a nutshell. A mentor can speed things up and teach you the right way so that you don’t have to wait forever, make a lot of mistakes, and then learn it on your own.

In this article, we will discuss what mentors can bring to the table and how to find a mentor that is right for you.

Why You Need a Mentor in Consulting

Before you try to find a mentor for succeeding in consulting, you should understand why exactly you need mentors in the first place. Once you truly comprehend what value a mentor can bring to the table. You will be more enthusiastic about finding an experienced coach who is willing to mentor consultants.


1. A mentor can point you in the right direction

Do you know what’s better than trial and error? It’s seeking advice from someone who has already been in the position in which you desire to be. The person who has already been there and can show you the right path. For instance, if you’re a junior analyst but your leadership instincts are making you want to be the team leader, a mentor can teach you exactly how to achieve that position. Besides this, a mentor can also recognize the talents that you don’t know you have and introduce you to better career advancement options.


2. A mentor can help you build your network

If someone is capable of being able to mentor consultants, it’s highly likely that they have a very strong network in the consulting industry. If you win their trust and play your cards right, their network could also become your network. You should never underestimate the worth of a strong network in consulting. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s ‘who’ you know.” You may be the most skillful problem solver and creative thinker in the world, but the question is: Who would let you demonstrate those skills? The fact is, there are many talented consultants in all parts of the world, but a lot of them never get to progress because they don’t know any individuals in positions of influence.


3. A mentor can encourage and motivate you

Since childhood, we look up to someone for advice. When we’re kids, our teachers, parents, and older siblings are our mentors. They lift us up when we feel like giving up. And this need to look up to someone for encouragement remains in us forever. That is what makes us human. However, the thing is, your parents or elders probably don’t know much about consulting. But a mentor, who has been in the industry for over a decade or more, surely understands the struggles you may go through and will be there to give you the much-needed push for succeeding in consulting.


4. A mentor can provide you with resources

Consulting is a knowledge-based industry. If you know more, you’d probably earn more. But the problem is, you may not even know what resources to look for to upskill yourself. This is where a mentor can be really helpful. For instance, a mentor, who is in a senior position at a big consulting firm, could provide you with case studies that are not easily accessible. Similarly, they can also assist in procuring other rare and valuable resources that could propel your career forward faster than others.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • It’s very common for new as well as experienced consultants to seek guidance from informal mentors
  • Mentors can help you avoid the ‘trial and error’ method and guide you in the right direction from the get-go
  • They can introduce you to more successful people in the industry and help you grow your network, and this can increase your chances of getting more consulting roles in the future
  • Mentors can encourage you when you feel like quitting and also provide you with highly valuable resources which you can use to upskill yourself
  • If you’re new to consulting and need a lot more guidance than an experienced consultant, you should find a mentor who actually has the time to guide you instead of simply going after the popular mentors
  • You should look for a mentor who specializes in the area of your chosen career objective

How to Find the Right Mentor as a Consultant

Now that you truly know the importance of a mentor, it’s likely that you are more willing to start your search and find one for yourself. Well, let’s discuss some tips you should utilize to find yourself the right consulting guru.

1. Go beyond your personal identity

Consultants often look for mentors who are similar to them demographically. For instance, males may look up to other male mentors and females may seek a successful female consultant as a mentor for succeeding in consulting. Race, nationality, gender, etc. should not be a decisive factor in choosing a mentor. You see, a shared identity is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it should only be seen as an additional advantage, not a requirement. So, if not shared identity, then what should you look for in a mentor? Well, we’ll discuss that in detail further in this article. But to keep it simple, the ability to mentor consultants skillfully and help them advance their career is the most important attribute that you should look for in a mentor.

mentors in consulting, Mentors in Consulting: Why You Need Them and How to Find the One

2. Look for a mentor who is proactive, not just popular

Another common pattern among consultants is chasing the popular mentor. Not saying that there aren’t any benefits to that. You could grow your own prestige just by association with a famous and insanely successful senior consultant. This could be helpful if you have been working in the consulting industry for a few years and have acclimatized yourself to the consulting environment completely. However, if you’re someone who is new to the industry and needs someone to hold your hand and show you the way. Then, you should probably look for a mentor who is proactive enough to do that. When you’re new, you don’t necessarily need popularity. What you need is to familiarize yourself with how the industry works and how you can reach the next level in the hierarchy. You can get acquainted with the popular ones later, but first, you need to survive the first couple of years in consulting.


3. Select a mentor based on your current career objective

Throughout your career as a consultant, your career objectives may change from time to time. For instance, at first, your goal may be to simply learn how to work with a team. And after a few years, you may want to move on to a position with more responsibility or maybe quit the consulting industry and build your own startup. So, it’s better to find a mentor who has helped other consultants fulfill a similar objective. All you need to do is have a chat with a potential mentor, and possibly some ex-mentees, to learn whether a mentor can truly help you achieve your goals or not.


4. Find a mentor who actually has the time to guide you

Again, this is especially relevant to new consultants who need more guidance and assistance than mid-level consultants. Chances are, your mentor is also working on consulting projects themselves and don’t have time to fully dedicate themselves towards mentoring you. That’s why it’s better to have transparent communication with your mentor about their availability and schedule.


In conclusion, working under the guidance of a mentor could be very empowering and helpful. As you probably know, consulting is a competitive industry that only allows the best to reach the next level. That’s why you should find all the help you can get, and this includes finding a mentor who has the right experience, availability, and a proven track record of successfully mentoring candidates.