Finding a great mentor is one of the best things you could do both for your career and personal growth. But how to find one? And, most important, how to convince them to become your mentor?
I want to help you solve the mentoring problem with the help of this article. But before we get to the process, there’s one thing that I want to clarify - and that you need to remember: mentoring isn’t only about you and it definitely isn’t about you being passive and just following someone else’s guidance all along.
In fact, you might need to do the opposite. Here are some tips to follow if you need to find a good mentor just for you.
1. Find out what do you want from a mentor
Before you even start looking for a mentor, you need to understand what do you expect of them. Some people look for mentors that could help them advance their careers; some look for mentors, who could teach them new skills.
So take some time and try to come up with the most specific answer to that question. Also, try to paint yourself a picture of your potential mentor - and do your best to make this picture as detailed as possible. Keep in mind that personal qualities might matter more than you think - for example, if you find a mentor that is professional but also is quite strict and demanding, you might find it hard working with them later.
Therefore, focus on your expectations, needs, and goals. The best advice I could give you here is to search for a mentor who doesn’t simply has a certain work experience or a certain set of skills but is also a person you want to be like.
2. Know where to look
Once you’ll have a clear vision of your potential mentor, think about where you can find them. Sometimes you already know who you want your mentor to be - but, sadly, sometimes, this person is unattainable (if it’s a celebrity or an industry leader, for example). However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find any mentor that would meet your requirements.
In many cases you can find a mentor in your close surroundings - for example, a person from your work, from an internship, and so on. If that’s the case, that’s great: this means that person already knows you a little, know your strong and weak sides, and you don’t need to prove yourself to ask for a mentorship. If that’s not the case, however, move to the next tip.
3. Learn more about the mentor
It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in a person that you already know or if you’re looking for a mentor online - either way, it won’t hurt to get to know more about them. Lucky for you, these days you don’t even need to contact them to do so.
Instead, read their social media, look for blogs or posts they write. If you know the paper writer who knows them, ask him or her about the person that interests you. It’s always good to confirm whether your potential mentor is indeed a person you want them to be.
4. Approach the mentor
But don’t do it quickly and don’t be too straightforward. If you do want to get the mentorship, you have to prove that you deserve it. Mentorship, in general, is time-consuming and challenging at times, so no mentor would say «yes» to you if they don’t know you.
This is especially important if you want to approach a mentor that you don’t no. Don’t simply go and ask them for a favor - instead, pay attention to them and do your best to offer them something useful. You can start by sharing their updates, commenting on their posts, giving them some positive feedback, asking questions (related to the topics of their posts), and do a lot of other things. Find a way (or the ways) in which you could help them - and do so.
If you already know the potential mentor, think whether you were able to prove your worth to them already or you need to do something more to show that you’re worthy of their time and efforts. If that’s the second option, do the same things I suggested above.
5. Assign the initial meeting, if possible
Of course, this won’t always be an option, but if it’s possible to meet with your mentor in person, do so. Show some initiative but try not to look too demanding. Ask them for a convenient time to meet and try not to make a meeting too long (an hour or less would be enough and would look polite).
Don’t ask them to mentor you the second you see them. In fact, don’t ask them to mentor you during this meeting at all. Just talk to them, ask some questions that you prepared beforehand, be ready that a conversation might flow elsewhere, and so on.
After the meeting is over, ask yourself how do you feel about it and about that person in particular. Do you feel better? More inspired, perhaps? If yes, you would probably benefit from the mentoring. If no, maybe you should look for another potential mentor?
6. Do it right
You could ask for mentorship right after the meeting - or after spending some time communicating with your mentor online if a meeting is not an option. But if your mentor said «yes», don’t think you could relax - that’s where the real work will begin.
Remember when I told you that mentorship is not only about you? Now I want to remind that. Mentorship is beneficial for both mentors and the ones they mentor - but if the latter do it right.
Don’t be afraid of challenges. Don’t get discouraged with something too easily. Don’t hesitate to ask more of your mentor - but don’t look too demanding at the same time. Keep in mind that mentoring a person, who is initiative, is always willing to learn, and isn’t afraid of challenges, is always a joy for a mentor. So do your best to become that person - for the benefit of both of you.