How To Find a Mentor: A Step-by-Step Guide With Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

20 August 2021

A mentor is someone with experience who can offer career guidance and support to a new professional. Mentors may advise and encourage someone who's beginning their careers, exploring a new career path or looking to advance their position. If you're interested in developing professionally, learning how to find a mentor could help you meet a professional in your field to help you reach your personal goals. In this article, we explain what a mentor is, show how you can find a mentor and provide tips to help you.

Related: Professional Development Opportunities: Definition and FAQs

Why is it important to find a mentor?

Mentors can provide guidance and personalised career support, helping you develop your skills and advance in your career. Finding a mentor may have the following benefits:

  • Introduce you to new professionals, helping you grow your network

  • Act as a connection for future opportunities

  • Be a reliable source for a letter of recommendation

  • Gain honest feedback about your strengths and areas for improvement

  • Identify opportunities and resources to build key skills

  • Offer support during the hiring process for resume editing, practising interview questions and developing an elevator pitch

Related: Learning Styles for Career Development

How to find a mentor

Some companies offer mentorship programs, where they match new employees with experienced professionals. If your company offers this type of program, consider joining it to help you find a mentor. You can also follow these steps to help you find your own mentor:

1. Determine your personal goals

Before searching for a mentor, consider outlining your personal career goals. Think about your short-term and long-term objectives for professional growth. Also, consider the steps you can take to achieve those goals. You can use this information to start conversations with potential mentors. This may help you find a mentor who can help you accomplish your objectives.

For example, if one of your goals is to develop your technical skills, you might consider searching for an expert in your field who possesses these skills. They can offer you training programs, answer your questions and provide additional resources for your technical growth. If your goal is to advance in your career and earn a leadership role, you might connect with a current leader. They can provide personalised support to help you develop leadership skills relevant for your industry.

Read more: How To Set Career Goals

2. Identify your mentorship needs and personal preferences

To help you find the right mentor for you, consider your mentorship needs and personal preferences. Consider why you want a mentor and what you're looking for in a mentorship relationship. Also, think about your personal attributes, including your learning style and communication preferences. Try to find someone whose style and preferences complement your own to help you establish a positive relationship. For example, if you prefer meeting in-person to discuss goals verbally, you might seek a mentor who shares this value.

You may also think about how you accept feedback since a mentor might provide constructive criticism to help you improve. Consider finding a mentor who can provide the feedback you seek. For example, some mentors may be willing to observe your work regularly, while others may want to meet less frequently.

3. Create a list of your current role models

Consider creating a list of your current role models to help you identify potential mentors. When considering people in your life who may be a good candidate for a mentor, think about the individuals who are in advanced positions at your organisation. Consider researching how they achieved that position. For example, they may have had several roles before earning their current title. You can use this information to focus your personal goals.

Depending on your industry and organisation, you may find someone on this list who can become your mentor. You can also use this list to determine the attributes you admire. For example, if you notice the people on your list have strong leadership skills or communicate effectively, you might decide to develop these skills. You may also try to find a mentor who has these skills.

4. Consider your personal network

After listing your role models, consider additional professionals in your personal network. Some examples include family connections, professional associations, your workplace, nonprofit organisations, local businesspeople and volunteer groups. When searching for a mentor, look for inspirational and successful people in your life. A mentor may want to know you personally before they offer to mentor you. Finding someone in your network can help you find someone who knows you and your work.

Related: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps

5. Choose a potential mentor

Before you ask someone to be your mentor, try to make sure you're asking the right person. Consider how well the person knows you and if they may be willing to mentor you. If you feel confident that the individual you're planning to ask may 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.

Try to remember that being a mentor is a considerable responsibility, and some people may not have the time to work with you. You may ask several people before finding the right match. Consider making a list of professionals who you can ask to mentor you.

6. Prepare your initial conversation

Before meeting with a prospective mentor, consider preparing a brief initial conversation. 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, can provide your potential mentor with the information they need to give thoughtful consideration to your request.

7. Schedule a meeting

If possible, try to meet with your potential mentor in person rather than asking over email. Meeting in person can help you have an open conversation, where the prospective mentor can ask questions. You can also discuss your goals, and they may discuss their personal availability for mentoring. Also, during an in-person discussion, you may begin to discuss a possible schedule and mentorship goals, if they accept your request.

8. Explain why you're seeking mentorship

Try to explain clearly why you want a mentor and what you hope to gain from the experience. By explaining your objectives and what you can offer as a mentee, your prospective mentor can properly assess whether the relationship would be a good fit for them. If they decide they cannot serve as a mentor for you, based on their other commitments, they may also suggest another person based on your needs and goals.

9. Explain why you selected them

Consider explaining why you selected them and how much you value their expertise. You may describe a specific project they completed or list their general qualities. Try to include a few specific details or examples to show your interest. When you can explain clearly why you're asking this individual, you may increase your chances of receiving a positive response.

10. Give them time to decide

A prospective mentor may agree to mentor you right away, but they may also need more time to decide or to check their schedule. Even if they want to mentor you, mentorship can be a large commitment. Some professionals may already have a mentee or several mentees, and they may be unable to add another at that time. Consider leaving your prospective mentor time to review your request and to check their schedule. This can help them determine if they're able to provide effective mentorship presently.

After the meeting, you may email them to thank them for meeting with you and considering becoming your mentor. If they accept, you can begin scheduling your first mentor meeting. If they decline, you may politely thank them again. This can help you maintain a positive relationship for the future. Some professionals may offer to mentor you at a later date when they have more time.

Tips for finding a mentor

Here are some tips you can follow to help you find a mentor:

  • Look for an excited mentor. Try to find a mentor who's excited about your work and the idea of mentoring you. This can help you build an effective and productive relationship.

  • Consider finding a group of mentors. Consider finding multiple mentors throughout your career to help you achieve different goals. For example, you may have one mentor who helps you develop your technical skills, while another helps you grow as a leader.

  • Express your gratitude throughout the process. To help you build your professional connections, consider showing gratitude throughout your mentorship process. You may write thank-you emails to letters to people you meet with and anyone who serves as your mentor.

  • Reassess your goals regularly. During your career, your goals may change and you may want a new type of mentorship. Consider taking time to reassess your goals to help you find the right mentor for your current level.

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