Many professionals already know the importance of mentorship in their careers; however, many don’t know how to properly seek out a member. It can be awkward to ask a busy person to take an interest in your fledgling career, but most successful professionals feel an innate need to give back.
Here are some tips on how to find the perfect mentor that will help you develop personally and professionally.
Find Someone You Aspire to Be Like
People who have found a lot of success in their careers are quick to thank their mentors instead of taking all credit themselves. The best mentors are people that you aspire to be like, who motivate you to be the best you can. It’s really more than just picking a mentor on the basis of his or her current position; pick a mentor on the basis of success you strive for.
Look for people who share some of the same traits and skills as you. If you find a person with similar attributes, it will make the experience more enjoyable for both parties. A friction in personalities will only frustrate both parties, and the mentoring process will ultimately be fruitless.
Make a list of possible mentors before committing to a final candidate. The list should include people you have a lot of respect for, get along with on a personal level, and inspire you to always push for more.
Arrange a Meeting
After choosing the person you think fits what you’re looking for in a mentor, invite him or her out to coffee (something not too formal) and have a chat. Keep the meeting to less than 1 hour, and don’t start by immediately asking the person to be your mentor. Start with small talk, let the conversation flow naturally, then ask finally ask the question as naturally as you can. If you’re not sure when to ask, just do it—don’t let the meeting go for too long or go completely to waste!
Evaluate the Mentor’s Professional Experience
Part of your criteria for choosing a mentor should relate to his or her credibility. You should know if the person has the experience to help you with what you’re interested in developing, improving, or pursuing.
After your initial meeting, you should take some time to evaluate the person more on the basis of the time you spent with him or her. Take note of your feelings and impressions after meeting the person. Ask yourself:
- Was there a connection?
- Did you feel comfortable talking to the person?
- Did the person give an encouraging and professional aura?
Both the mentor and mentee will have expectations for each other. As a mentee, set the expectation of how you want the mentorship to work and what you want to get out of it. Ask the mentor about his or her expectations, and determine if the mentorship will be able to function smoothly between the two parties.
Keep in mind that your mentor is a busy professional, and remember to always be flexible and considerate with his or her schedule. With that in mind, know that mentorship can take many forms, including:
- Scheduled phone calls
- Scheduled meetings (online or in person)
- Additional possible opportunities for both of you (other projects and professional activities)
- A combination of all these things!
If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on the way to finding your perfect mentor! In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll share more professional development tips, this time about how to become an irreplaceable sales representative.