Mentorship is easily one of the most effective ways to not only expand your network, but help further your goals, aspirations, and career. Success comes from passion, perseverance, and people. When you have right people supporting and cheering you on, you can feel like you are on top of the world. When you find the right mentor, they can help you save time, money, and energy. They can offer valuable advice and experience, all while shaping you to be your fullest potential.
A mentor is one of the key ingredients to your professional and personal development. You can even say it is crucial to your learning process. A good mentor will provide encouragement and feedback, challenge your theories, and offer new perspectives. They can help provide clarity and be the guidance that you need to succeed. They often have your best interests in mind and are selfless with their contributions.
So how do you find someone to mentor you? And more importantly, how do you find the right mentor for you? Here are some tips to guide you.
Understand Your Needs
Before seeking out a mentor, be honest with yourself and understand what your needs are. Dig deep within yourself to find out more what you are looking for and wanting to achieve. Think: what am I looking to improve? How much commitment am I looking for from a mentor, and how much time and effort am I willing to put in? When you have a clear vision as to what you need in order to succeed, you will be able to articulate your needs and goals to a mentor easier. It might even be a factor for them to consider if they want to invest in you! You could have all the strategies and advice in the world, but if you don’t have the proper mindset, you won’t be able to move forward.
Set your intentions, then set some personal goals. Mentorship is a two way street. Don’t go wasting someone else’s time if you are unable to commit, and don’t go expecting your mentor being able to fix all of your challenges if you aren’t ready to put 100% in.
Do Your Research
If you already know what industry or sector interests you, begin your research in your local city. Join networking groups, meet-ups, online forums, and stay up to date with current events in your community. Conducting research is very important and crucial to your mentorship success.
Mentors can be found just about anywhere and everywhere. For example:
- You can find a mentor at your current workplace and employer, such as a boss or supervisor
- You can find a mentor on event websites, such as speakers or organizers
- You can find a mentor at your current school or alma mater, such as an alumnae or a teacher
- You can find a mentor online, using platforms such as TenThousandCoffees or LinkedIn
- You can find a mentor in your extracurricular classes, such as a fitness or sports coach
A mentor doesn’t have to be a C-suite executive with a laundry list of accomplishments. Don’t put pressure on yourself in finding that “perfect mentor”. Remember, finding the right mentor is finding someone that you admire and want to learn from. Create your mentor “must-have” checklist. Write down the qualities that are important to you as a mentee.
Engage on Social Media
Once you have a shortlist of potential mentors that intrigue you, find a way to connect with them. Nowadays, everyone is a click away, so this shouldn’t be too hard! If it’s someone you haven’t spent much time with, Twitter and LinkedIn are two platforms that are perfect for cultivating professional relationships. Twitter is an excellent way to converse with someone through short and sweet phrases, while LinkedIn is an incredible way to learn more about a person through their professional resume, articles, and posts. When used properly, these two platform can have an instrumental impact on your career.
Start building those online relationships by following their handles and extending an introduction. Introduce who you are and perhaps something you admire about them – whether that be a recent post they have shared or something they said. Let them know you are interested in connecting with them. Unfortunately with the ease of a button, there are many people nowadays who simply follow or add someone without properly introducing themselves. Take that extra step by sending them a private note or message to stand out from the others. Share their work, comment on their posts, and give back wherever you can. You are capable of doing more than you think when you offer your voice.
Once you are clear about your needs and goals, and are actively engaged online with current events or trends, take the next step and get actively involved. Whether that be within your industry or community, engage by attending networking events, educational workshops, lunch and learns, or even volunteering on a local committee! The best way to expand your network is by getting your hands dirty. Don’t be afraid to show up as who you are and introduce yourself. Ask questions and listen to what they say. You won’t believe how much you learn about a person if you take the time to listen. When given the opportunity, people love to talk about themselves and give advice when needed.
Connection is what brings people together. This is also an excellent way to meet face-to-face with professionals that you have been engaging online. If this is your first time stepping outside your comfort zone, check out some networking tips here.
Master The Ask
Remember, a mentorship is a two-way exchange. You can’t force a mentorship relationship no matter how hard you try. Get to know your mentor first before mastering the ask. Fit is the most important aspect of a mentor-mentee relationship. Don’t send cold outreach emails and expecting them to respond if you haven’t met them. Be patient with your search. Interact with them on multiple basis so you both have a mutual understanding of how each other communicate, work, and contribute. Attend similar events, collaborate on projects, and pick each other’s brains on questions. Cultivate the relationship on a personal level so that you are comfortable being yourself. Vulnerability is also a factor to consider.
Once you are confident in your decision, reach out and ask to meet with them in person. Be honest and confident in your ask. Explain what you are looking for, how they can assist you, and how it is to their benefit. Ask questions and listen. Be conscious of their time and express your gratitude.
Remember, a mentor is a partnership that is built on a foundation of openness, trust, and mutual interests. Take your time and be intentional with the process. Trust your instinct then go for it!
Seeing people succeed while doing what they love fires her up like no other. Aside from being the co-founder of DiscoverHER Project, Jess is a meeting planner by day and a wedding planner by night. Jess is passionate about giving girls and women around the world the same tools she used to get to where she is today. She believes in wearing her heart on her sleeve, doing everything out of a place of love, and empowering people around her to do the same. When she isn’t in front of a screen, she’s most often found eating tacos, wandering around a book store, or off exploring the world.