For Customer Success Managers or for any field for that matter, mentors are very powerful. When you look back and say, ‘I wish I knew back then what I know now,’ I definitely would put mentorship in this bucket. While I personally did not have a mentor, I wish I had someone to guide me early in my career so I knew which strategic moves to make to set me up for success in my professional career. As I’m going through this process of finding a mentor, I want to share these tips with you.
Why are mentors good?
They are role models that you look up to or aspire to be
They get to know you on a personal level and offer you tailored advice that is in your best interest - think of a Career Coach
They share industry insights and a different POV
They will advocate for you if you need referrals or recommendations
They will positively influence your career trajectory
What should you look for in a mentor as a Customer Success Manager?
What do you want to learn from your potential mentor?
Ultimately, you should understand what goals you want to achieve with a mentor so you can articulate that request. Do you want to learn how to grow and up-level yourself within the organization? If so, seek out mentors who are in a position that you aspire to be in. For example, as a Customer Success Manager, you might be interested in pursuing a leadership or C-Suite role. If so, then you will want to narrow your search criteria to those who are in the position that you want to pursue.
If you are a CSM in a certain industry or you want to specialize in a specific vertical, then you could seek out mentors who are already working in the industry, but this is not a requirement. They will be able to generally share industry insights and trends to keep you well informed and one step ahead of the curve.
Do you work well with your mentor?
You should take some time to get to know your to-be mentor to see if there’s good rapport. Do you both have a compatible personality? It’s important to pick a mentor who you can get along with and is willing to take on a mentee since this will be a long-term relationship. They should also be happy and passionate about their career so they can genuinely guide you on a successful career path.
How to Find a Mentor
To start your mentor search, create a shortlist of leaders within or outside of your network. The current organization you work for or LinkedIn are great resources to create a targeted search. There are some existing programs available such as the Catalyst Coaching Program, started by Catalyst Software for Customer Success. It’s a 3 month program, but there is currently a waitlist to get in. Women in Tech is a global non-profit that pairs women in business and technology fields. You can get started by filling out an application online.
Once you have a few people in mind, you will want to craft a tailored message to each person discussing your purpose, what you would like to be coached on, why you chose the individual and your request for a mentor. Leaders who are highly successful have limited time and availability so it’s important to be clear with your message and request and be respectful of their time. Taking on a mentee is a time commitment so be sure to give them an opportunity to gracefully decline your request.
Make your intro message short and brief and ask for a quick coffee or intro meeting to get to know them so you can explain your goals and see if it would be a good match. Having a 1:1 with a successful leader that you aspire to be is a huge win even if you both decide not pursue the mentor/mentee relationship.
Sample Template (Known Recipient)
I used a ChatGPT prompt to help me write a sample template to someone you already know requesting mentorship.
Dear [Executive's Name],
I hope you are doing well! I’ve closely followed your successful career and appreciate the significant contributions you have made to the industry. I wanted to reach out with a mentorship request to see if you would be interested in taking on a mentee.
I am at the point in my career where I want to seek out a mentor to help me upskill myself and cultivate my leadership and management skills. Your insights, experience, and unique perspective would be instrumental in shaping my professional growth, and I am genuinely excited about the possibility of learning from you.
If you’re available to meet for coffee or 1:1 to discuss if mentorship would be a good fit, please let me know. I understand your time is valuable. If you don’t have the bandwidth to take on a mentee, I would still appreciate any feedback or guidance.
Thank you for considering my request. I am truly grateful for your time, and I look forward to the possibility of working with you as my mentor.
Sample Template (Unknown Recipient)
Here is a sample template outreach to someone you may not know
My name is Jane and I’m a Customer Success Manager at Company ABC. I’ve been following your successful career as VP of Customer Success and appreciate your significant contributions in the FinTech industry, especially with your work on Fraud Prevention.
I would love to hear your career story and ask you a few questions about your career path. Would you be willing to meet with me for 30 minutes over Zoom or a phone conversation?
I understand you are very busy and if 15 minutes is more manageable, happy to work around your schedule. Please let me know what date and time works best.
Thank you for considering my request and I look forward to your reply.
Mentee Best Practices
Once you're paired up with a mentor, there are a few best practices to keep in mind to ensure you have a productive and long-lasting mentor/mentee relationship:
Take ownership by creating a plan or mentoring schedule to lay out expectations and time commitment with your mentor
Set up recurring calendar invites
Be prepared with an agenda for each meeting
Give advance notice if there is a conflict with scheduling
Always follow through on action items and commitments
Be respectful of you mentor’s time
Keep the conversation confidential
Be transparent and open to feedback
Use active listening skills
Resources: Yale Mentorship