Finding a Mentor: Best Practices for Seeking and Having a Mentor

If a student has a question on a class assignment, what can they do? Usually the instructor is available to walk them through any issues, but there’s nothing that says you can’t have someone there to help you out along the way, someone who’s been there before. Many times, these folks become your mentors.

There are numerous reasons why any professional can benefit from a mentor. Having a mentor can help you succeed professionally, inspiring you, and help you connect to a professional network.

Defining the mentor you want

Yes, having a mentor is important, but not just any person can fulfill that role. Your mentor should have significantly more experience than you, be someone you can trust, and, above all, be someone with whom you can be open and truly express any problems you’re having in your career. After all, that’s what they’re there for.

The very first step in finding a mentor is figuring out what you want from a mentor. Do you have specific questions or are you seeking general career guidance? Do you hope to meet with your mentor once a month or twice a year? Once you’ve figured out the basics you can move to the next step: finding your mentor.

How to find a mentor

A mentor can help make or break crucial career decisions, so finding a good one deserves more time than it takes you to order a latte. You’ll thank yourself later. Finding a great mentor might be easier said than done, but here are three tips to help you get started.

1. Look outside your office

There’s nothing wrong with having a senior company executive as a mentor, but you should realize that our perfect mentor might be someone outside your company. It’s worth it to look around and consider everyone who could be a potential mentor, even if you plan to stay at your job long-term.

2. Consider why a mentor should help you

Sure, you’re a great person moving rapidly through your career path and you need help. But if your mentor isn’t someone you’re already particularly close to or work with often, why would they want to take time out of their already busy lives to help? Figure out how you can be useful to potential mentors, and be prepared to pitch yourself if necessary.

3. Use social media

If you’ve looked through your contacts and decided you need to reach further to find the best mentor for you, consider social media. LinkedIn can help you find professionals in your field and it lets you know if you have any mutual connections who might help with an introduction. Likewise, chances are you follow relevant people on Twitter. Scroll through the list and see if any seem like mentor-material. If so, strike up a conversation.

Sources:

Entrepreneurs Organization. (2014, March 26). The Foolproof Recipe For Picking A Business Mentor. (2014, March 26). Retrieved May 19, 2014, from Forbes

Hannon, K. (2011, October 31). How To Find a Mentor. Retrieved May 19, 2014, from Forbes

Moran, G. (2013, August 29). Forget Advisors – How to Find and Woo a Power Mentor. Retrieved May 19, 2014, from Entrepreneur