5 Tips for Finding the Right Mentor

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You know that having a mentor, formal or otherwise, could do wonders for your career. But, how do you go about finding the one who’s right for you?

Everyone needs a little advice and support at some point along their career path. This is where a mentor can step in and become a real asset.

Working with a mentor can benefit you in all kinds of ways during various stages in your professional life. But, they are especially valuable when you’re launching a career, starting a new position or considering making a big change.

Here’s how to find the right mentor for you:

1. Do some soul searching

The first step is to know exactly what you’re looking for and why. This process starts by doing a little soul searching. Self-awareness can support you in your career in lots of ways, so get a bit of practice. Think, honestly, about your own strengths and weakness, and assess your professional goals and aspirations too. Where can a mentor help you fill in some gaps? Where do you need support and where are you already confident and capable? Knowing yourself is an essential part of being a good mentee.

2. Loosen up

Some schools and companies provide newcomers with a mentor. This formalized relationship generally comes with check-ins at certain intervals and maybe some evaluation and feedback.

However, don’t worry if you haven’t been offered such an arrangement. You don’t need a formal mentor — you can find the person that’s right for you. It might even easier to find the best fit without a formal process or program. People tend to be assigned to one another somewhat randomly in these cases. You’ll have more control when you take on the ownership for finding an advisor yourself.

3. Plan your approach

Whether your looking to build a formal or an informal mentor relationship, it’s a good idea to do some planning before you reach out. Think carefully about what you’re looking for and what you’re hoping to get out of the experience. Then, think about what you might say to pitch a mentor/mentee relationship. Describe the challenges your facing and how you hope they might be able to help you. Present a potential agenda for your first meeting too. This will demonstrate that you mean business and won’t waste anyone’s time.

4. Use your resources

Remember to utilize your resources whenever your working toward any goal in your professional life. If someone has said they’d be willing to help if you have any questions, take them up on it and see how it goes. You never know — this person could end up being a great mentor for you.

Use tools like LinkedIn to help you hone in on potential mentors. What’s the sense of working hard to develop this resource if you never take advantage of it? Reach out to contacts through social media and develop some of these connections. Your mentor might just emerge from the process.

5. Spread it out

It would be wonderful if you could find a mentor who could help you to reach all of your professional goals. However, sometimes you need a team instead. Maybe you’ll find one mentor to help you develop your professional network, another to talk with about client relationships, and someone else you to teach you about salary negotiation.

Not only will looking for a team give you access to better and more specialized advice, it might even make it easier to get time commitments from busy people — which the best mentors tend to be.

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