Working with a mentor can be exceedingly valuable for anyone who wants to grow in their career. Mentors can provide insights into specific professional situations, negotiation tactics, opportunities and career path goals.
Finding a good candidate and asking them to be your mentor can feel challenging. It well worth it, however, to gain a trusted advisor and guide. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to find and engage with a mentor.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who extends guidance to another person through experience by offering advice, building trust and listening and responding to questions and concerns. In order to mentor, an individual must be engaged, aware of the needs of the person they are mentoring, authentic and dependable.
In a professional sense, a mentor must also exhibit the attributes that are necessary to succeed in a specific industry or field. The purpose of a mentor is to provide guidance to someone who is starting out in a new field, exploring a new career path or simply wishes to succeed in their current position.
Some benefits of mentorship include:
- Building professional connections for future opportunities
- Having a reliable source for a letter of recommendation
- Gaining honest feedback about your strengths and areas for improvement
- Identifying opportunities and resources to build key skills
- Having support during the hiring process for resume editing, practicing interview questions and developing an elevator pitch
How to find a mentor
Follow these steps to find a mentor who can support you by providing the insights and assistance you need.
1. Reflect on whether mentorship is a good fit for you
Consider your attributes and whether you would be a good mentee. Ask yourself whether you would be someone you would like to mentor. If not, why? Are you respectful, willing to work hard, flexible and open to feedback and criticism? In order to succeed in a mentor-mentee relationship, you must be actively building your skills and looking to advance in your career.
2. Identify your mentorship needs
Consider outlining the goals you have set for your own professional growth and think about what it would take to achieve those goals. This can be a starting point for your conversations with your mentor. It can also help you to select someone who can help you achieve those goals.
3. Select people to ask for mentorship
When considering people in your life that may be a good candidate for a mentor, think about the individuals who are ahead of you in terms of their careers or professional growth. Another way to identify possible mentors is to seek out those who have the position you wish to grow into in the future.
4. Start with your personal network
There are several places you can begin searching for mentors. Some examples include family connections, professional associations, your workplace, nonprofit organizations, local businesspeople and volunteer groups. When searching for a mentor, look for inspirational and successful people in your life. Before someone will mentor you, they will likely need to see your potential in the industry, as well as your willingness to work hard and succeed.
5. Prepare your elevator pitch
Be prepared to confidently share your goals, why you think this person is the right mentor for you and what your expectations are of them. Setting clear expectations in the initial conversation—including the time commitment involved—provides your potential mentor with the information they need to give thoughtful consideration to your request.
How to ask someone to be your mentor
Before you ask someone to be your mentor, you want to be sure you’re asking the right person. If you feel confident that the individual you’re planning to ask would have a vested interest in your success, as well as have the time to invest in your growth, the next step is asking them to invest in a mentor-mentee relationship with you. Be mindful that being a mentor is a considerable responsibility.
1. Schedule a meeting
If possible, try to meet with your potential mentor in person rather than asking over email.
2. Explain why you are seeking mentorship
The more clearly your potential mentor understands your needs and expectations, the better. By explaining what you hope to gain from mentorship and offer as a mentee, they can properly assess whether the relationship would be a good fit for them.
3. Explain why you selected them
Explain why you selected them and how much you value their expertise. When you can make a clear case for what you want from a mentor relationship and why you are asking this individual to become your mentor, you are more likely to receive a positive response.
If your potential mentor seems uncomfortable or skeptical, it’s best to step back and keep looking. Even if they want to, they might also simply not have the time or capacity to offer you effective mentorship at that time. A good mentor must be invested and excited for it to be mutually beneficial.
When you’re looking for a business mentor, it’s important to look for an individual who exhibits a few key attributes. They should be successful in the field and possess the skills needed to advance in their careers. However, success is not the only indicator of a good mentor. In fact, a mentor should have the attributes of a good trainer or teacher. A mentor should also be willing to share their expertise, skills and knowledge with you.
If you feel like you’re struggling to form a personal relationship with a potential mentor, you may want to look for someone else with whom you can establish a connection. A good mentor should be invested in your success and take the responsibility seriously.
It’s also important for a mentor to value growth and ongoing learning. When working with mentors, you should feel comfortable receiving constructive feedback and criticism, and they should feel comfortable giving it. Growth happens when you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, using them to learn and be successful to achieve your career goals.
After you form a relationship with your mentor, you should maintain it through regular contact. You might decide to set up weekly one-on-one meetings, for example. Be clear about your expectations of the relationship, ask questions, request guidance and learn from your mentor as much as possible.
When mentors offer constructive guidance and criticism, it’s important to accept and implement the guidance into your professional life. Having a mentor is a great help as you navigate your career path to achieve success.