Mentors can be a major asset in your career. Their advice and guidance can be extremely helpful and reassuring. But finding a mentor isn’t always easy. Although some organisations have structured mentorship programs, most connections are established organically. Here are a few ways to go about finding a mentor.
Finding the right personNot everyone willing to be your mentor is necessarily a good fit. As everyone has different skill sets and needs, it’s important to find someone whose career you’d like to emulate and who you feel comfortable speaking honestly with. Don’t just look at the seniority level someone holds in a company, but take a closer look at their experience, background and achievements. The more you identify with a person, the more likely it’s going to be a good fit for the both of you. However, keep in mind that mentoring is a two-way relationship – don’t be just on the receiving end, but invest equally as strong.
Places to find a mentorMentors can be found through a variety of channels, and one’s own workplace is often the first port of call. However, do note that your direct manager is not always the best option. Working closely together on day-to-day projects, there is not always enough room for objective mentoring.
If the upper management of your own company does not offer any interesting profiles, you should take a look at your wider network. Who have you met at networking events? Who do you regularly encounter during industry get-togethers? Who inspires you to look at the bigger picture? Whose opinion do you trust? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself when trying to identify a mentor.
Getting to know each otherOnce you have identified who could potentially be your mentor, take your time to get to know them a little better. After all, you want to ensure they are right for you. Start building the relationship through casual catch-ups, be it over a quick coffee or a relaxed drink after work.
Ideally, you might have identified several people who could be a good mentor to you. Growing a stronger connection with all of them might even result in you having multiple mentors. There’s nothing wrong with having more than one: after all, everyone has something different to offer.
Making it official Once you have formed a sincere relationship with your mentor or mentors, it’s time to let him/ her know that you are very appreciative of the advice you are given. Though it’s awkward to formally ask “do you want to be my mentor?”, try asking for regular meetups instead. They’ll understand what you’re asking, and will hopefully be amenable. Once you set up a schedule, make sure to use the time wisely – don’t complain about your job or boss, and instead come prepared with topics you want to discuss, goals you want to achieve, and be ready to listen and take in the advice, even if it’s not what you expect.
Finding a great mentor is a perfect way to stay on track with your own career and is valuable for your personal development. However, choosing wisely and developing strong relationships is key.