Seven Easy Steps to Find a Mentor
3 January 2023
Nobody else can help you fast-track your career like a career mentor. From industry-specific insights to salary negotiation information, a mentor is there for you when you need them. But what to do if you are currently mentor-less? How do you go about finding the best mentor for you?
Step 1: Discover why a mentor is important
If you haven’t already, check out the previously posted Seven Reasons Why You Need a Mentor.
Step 2: Determine what makes a good mentor
A good mentor holds a position in the profession of your choice. They also have industry knowledge and experience. Of course, honesty and integrity are important, as is the ability to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Most importantly, they are motivated to help a keen younger professional advance in their career.
Step 3: Network, network, network
Your career development should include networking, especially when you’re looking for a mentor.
Identify organizations you’re interested in working for and then determine the appropriate senior employees. Use business listings, association publications, the internet and social media for your research.
Don’t forget the front-door approach; you can contact the front desk and ask for appropriate names and contact information. If you’re not provided with names because of privacy concerns, you may be able to leave your information so that someone can contact you.
Step 4: Ask for an informational interview
A potential mentor wants to see that you are motivated to progress in your career. The best way to demonstrate this is to ask for an informational interview. To many senior professionals, your initiative will be appreciated, and the interview will likely be granted.
Step 5: Ask the right questions
Prepare your list of questions before the interview. Ask about their organization, their corporate structure and culture and, most importantly, their personal career journey. Learning about where they are professionally and how they got there will help you determine whether they will make a good mentor for you. Allow them to talk more than you – you’re there to learn, not to sell yourself.
Step 6: Follow up
You met, you built rapport, you asked questions, you listened, and you learned. Follow that up with a thank-you note. It’s a good idea if the note includes a follow-up question, perhaps related to a topic you discussed during the interview. The goal here is to see if they will continue to help after the interview.
Once they have provided some form of assistance, they may continue to do so on an ongoing basis. You can keep going back to them, but don’t overwhelm them. Try to find a way to build rapport while also soliciting advice.
Step 7: Grow the relationship
Try to find ways to stay in touch but without always seeking advice or information. You could follow up on something that was previously discussed: how did that charity golf tournament go? You could share breaking industry-specific news. Or you could provide a personal update. If their insights helped you successfully complete a project or land a job, they’ll be happy to hear they were able to assist. At this point, they may feel invested in your professional growth, and once that happens you have successfully landed a career mentor.