If taking your career to the next level is important to you, then one of the best things that you can do is find a career mentor – you know, someone who has been where you want to go and who can give you advice on how to get there. There are many successful professionals out there who would be happy to take someone under their wing, but sometimes finding the right person can be a challenge. It can also be a bit intimidating to reach out to someone you may not know very well and ask them to be your mentor.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier. Here are five of our top tips on how to find a career mentor.
- Know what kind of mentor you are looking for.
While this tip might seem obvious at first glance, we want to challenge you to dig a little deeper. Finding a mentor who currently has the position that you aspire to is a good start, but it is not your only option. Ask yourself what skills you’d like to develop. Maybe you wish you had better sales skills or could give more engaging presentations. Perhaps you find it challenging to supervise other people. To find mentors who can help you with these kinds of skills, you don’t have to stick to your own industry to find them. Look for the best mentor who can help you with these skills regardless of what industry they are in.
- Consider people you already know.
Your ideal career mentor maybe someone you already know. When considering potential mentors, make a list of everyone you know who might fit the bill. This includes colleagues, former co-workers and supervisors, former teachers, friends and family members. You can also let friends and family members know that you are looking for a career mentor (tell them the kind of person that you are looking for) and ask if they can introduce you to anyone.
- Take advantage of Linkedin.
Even if the idea of making a cold call scares you, most people are fairly comfortable with sending and receiving messages through Linkedin. Linkedin allows you to search for people with specific job titles or who work in specific companies or industries that you might be interested in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people that you think might be able to help you on your career path. Send them a quick message telling them your aspirations. Ask if you can buy them a coffee or visit them in their office for 30 minutes to talk to them about how they achieved their career goals.
- Join a networking group.
Joining a networking group such as your local chamber of commerce is a great way to meet a lot of people and scout out potential mentors before you commit to anything beyond a casual conversation. A thirty second interaction at a networking event is often enough for you to decide whether you’d like to reach out to someone to connect on a deeper level.
- Structure the relationship.
A mentor-mentee relationship is not just a casual friendship. It should be structured. Decide how you would like the relationship to work. Would you like monthly face to face meetings? Are quarterly meetings sufficient? What topics would you like to cover at each meeting? Of course, the mentor must be agreeable and will likely have their own suggestions, but as the mentee, you need to let your mentor know how you would like the relationship to proceed. Don’t expect the mentor to do all the work!
Finally, remember if the first person you choose as a mentor is difficult to get together with or provides you with only vague advice, it may be best to move on and find someone else. Don’t take it personally. Finding the right career mentor can take time, but it is time well spent and it is one of the best things you can do to help you achieve success.