Finding a mentor can be one of the most critical decisions in your professional development. A mentor can help guide and support you as you navigate your career and provide invaluable advice and insight. But how do you go about finding a mentor who is a good fit for you? Here are a few tips to get started.
Before we discuss how you can find the right mentor for you, let’s discuss a bit about what a mentor is precisely and how they can help you.
1. What is a mentor, and what can they do for you?
A mentor is someone who can guide you on your professional journey. They are an experienced, wisdom-filled individual — perhaps even a senior executive – who is willing and able to help you increase your knowledge and skillset in order to further your career goals.
A mentor can help you in several ways, including:
- Providing advice on your career direction and goals
- Offering guidance on how to navigate the professional world
- Helping you develop your skillset to
- increase your chances of success
- Working with you to solve problems both in the workplace and at home
- Introducing you to people in their network who can help you advance your career
2. Who makes a good mentor?
Not everyone is suited to be a mentor. You need to find someone who is patient, supportive, and has the time to invest in you. Ideally, your mentor will also have experience in the field or industry you aspire to work in. They don’t need to be someone you know personally; many people find mentors through their network of professional contacts.
Now that you know what mentors are let’s discuss how to find one that suits your needs.
3. How can you find a mentor?
There are lots of places to find a mentor. Some people have mentors assigned through work or an internship program, while others seek out mentors based on their connections in the community and industry.
Here are some ideas on where you can find a mentor:
- Professional networks – LinkedIn, Meetup.com
- Academic institutions – your university alumni network or mentor program, online mentor directories
- Industry organizations – Chambers of Commerce and industry associations can often connect you to mentors in the field, such as networking groups and volunteer mentorship programs.
- Professional development workshops – conferences, seminars, and webinars often include mentor panels or mentor sessions where you might be able to connect with mentors in your industry
3. How to find a mentor who is a good fit for you
So now that you know how to find a mentor let’s discuss what you should look for when assessing someone as a mentor.
As with any relationship, the more time you spend getting to know your mentor and checking in with them, the better mentorships can be informal or formal; consider what level of commitment will work best for you and your mentor.
Also, consider whether you would like a mentor who can mentor and coach you or one who will introduce you to their network. For example, someone that guides you on your career development but doesn’t necessarily have formal connections or introductions for you. Or someone that is more of an informal mentor but has industry connections they can share with you when you need them.
Before making a mentor connection, you also need to consider whether you would be willing to work with someone who has different opinions, political affiliations, or views of sensitive topics than you. The mentor-mentee relationship is all about open communication and respect; the goal is to learn from each other, not always agree. However, as in every connection, there are deal-breakers, and you need to know exactly what you are looking for to find what will work best for you.
4. How to make the most of your mentor-mentee relationship
You should make an effort to meet with your mentor on a regular basis. They can offer great insight and advice, especially if they are working in the same industry you aspire to work in. Meeting regularly will help solidify your mentor-mentee relationship and allow for a deeper dialogue about workplace issues, strategies, and opportunities.
Another way to keep your mentor-mentee relationship strong is to stay in touch. Of course, you don’t need to text or email every single day, but make an effort to send your mentor interesting articles and updates on what you are working on in the office, in school, volunteering in the community, etc. In addition, ensure that you always value your mentor’s time by asking for advice when you are truly stuck on something.
In addition, make sure you are understanding of your mentor’s time and respect them. Furthermore, it does not hurt if you also add value to your mentor’s life . If you are seeing them on a regular basis, then sharing content that they might be interested in is always helpful. As long as your mentor feels that they add value to your life by being there for you, the mentor-mentee relationship will remain strong and healthy.
When your mentor-mentee relationship is strong, it can benefit both your lives and careers. Mentors have been known to provide insight, knowledge, and new opportunities for mentees, as well as mentor them through challenges they face at work or in school.
Mentoring is about sharing, caring, and mastering. It can be anything from formal to informal mentor relationships where you learn new skills or talk about life in general. So no matter your mentor status or if you want a mentor, take the time to assess who will be the right mentor for you – and keep the relationship going strong.
Mentor-mentee relationships can be rewarding for both mentor and mentee, but it is vital to find a good fit mentor. Make an effort to connect with mentors in your industry at conferences or mentor panels. In addition, ask yourself whether you would like someone more of a coach or mentor who can mentor and coach you or someone who will introduce you to their network. Also, consider whether you would be willing to work with someone who has different opinions, political affiliations, or views of sensitive topics than you because the mentor-mentee relationship is all about open communication and respect.
You should also make an effort to meet regularly with your mentor, provide value to their life, and keep the relationship strong by staying in touch. And when your mentor-mentee relationship is solid and healthy, you can both benefit from this mentoring relationship.