Already we know the powerful influence mentors can have on our lives as working professionals. But what if no one from your professional past or current workplace springs to mind as a potential mentor? Or maybe you already have a professional mentor but don’t quite feel like they’re able to advise you on all of your personal or professional developmental goals?
Don’t despair: Many professionals may not realize the mentorship potential of those who know them best—their friends.
Whether it’s your best friend from third grade or a more recent acquaintance, it’s time to consider turning one of your friendships into a life-altering mentorship.
Why Turn Your Friendship into a Mentorship?
When it comes to having a friend as a mentor, otherwise known as a “friendtor,” you may be surprised by how helpful they can be and the many advantages such a pairing can bring. Here are just a few reasons you will want to consider turning your friendship into a mentorship.
They know you. Because of your friendship, your mentor knows you, your past challenges and setbacks, and your future goals. If they’ve known you for a little longer, they may have seen you develop as a person and likely have a holistic view of your personal strengths. They know what you’re looking for out of life and can likely advise you on how to get there faster.
You already trust them. Most people feel more comfortable discussing their personal lives—which also affect our professional lives but may be out of bounds for a professional mentorship—and their professional hardships with friends than with a mentor who only knows them in a professional capacity.
Whether your friend is in a similar place in their life or further along in their career, make sure this is a person you’d trust with your future success. After all, they will be advising you on those decisions you find difficult to make.
The honesty goes both ways. Because you already trust each other as friends, you will be more honest about your problems, and they will be more honest with their feedback and advice, perhaps even telling you things that a professional mentor might otherwise avoid out of fear of hurting your feelings. Vice versa, you may feel more comfortable challenging the feedback of a friendtor than a professional mentor.
They can challenge you in new ways. Unlike a mentor who’s your professional colleague, a friendtor may feel more comfortable challenging you and pushing you outside of your comfort zone, which can often be what you need to disrupt your career and reach uncharted levels of success. And because you know this person well, you won’t mind feeling a little discomfort over trying something new.
Their knowledge, network, and skill set can complement yours. If your friend is in a different field or works for a different organization, they can often offer you deeper career insights and bring new networking possibilities, potentially helping you transition into a new role or organization or connecting you with additional contacts outside of your current company. As long as they offer something different from what you already know, you can learn from them too.
Although the mentee or protégé in a traditional mentor-mentee relationship may feel as though the friendtorship is one-sided, the benefits are not limited to the person being mentored in a friendtorship. The friend-turned-mentor has just as much to gain from this new type of friendship as the protégé, from the personal joy of helping a friend to the professional thrill of creating a legacy.
Best of all: When the workday is done, you two can go from work to play and celebrate the progress you both have made.
What You Should Look For in a Friendtor
If you’ve been considering one of your friends as a possible mentor or friendtor, you need to think about what you need, what they can bring to your professional and personal development, and what qualities make up a successful mentor.
In our infographic below, you can explore some of the questions you should consider when determining if your friend would make an ideal and effective friendtor.
Is This the Start of a Beautiful Friendtorship?
Although professionals can certainly get ahead on their own, having a mentor can prove invaluable in navigating the complexities of professional life today. Whether you have a friend in mind already or are only now considering a friend as a potential mentor, the benefits of having someone there to support you in your endeavors and encourage you along the way are undeniable.
Now that you know what to look for, the only thing left for you to do is find your friendtor!