Before you can build a powerful mentoring relationship, you need to know how to find a mentor! These tips for finding and starting a mentorship will help you achieve your life and career goals.
Mentors are key to succeeding; research shows that men and women who are mentored move farther ahead in life than those who aren’t.
Before the tips, here is successful author Julia Cameron’s advice on finding a mentor:
“You are on the look out for experience, strength, and hope. You want to hear from the horse’s mouth exactly how disappointments have been survived,” says Cameron. “It helps to know that the greats have had hard times too and that your own hard times merely make you part of the club.”
When you’re looking for a mentor, don’t focus solely on people who have always been successful! Find someone who has struggled and succeed, who has tried and failed. That’s the crux of a great mentoring relationship: succeeding despite adversity.
To learn more about mentoring for success, read Power Mentoring: How Successful Mentors and Proteges Get the Most Out of Their Relationships by Ellen Ensher and Susan Murphy.
Here are seven tips for finding a mentor…
7 Tips for Finding a Mentor – Starting a Mentoring Relationship
Before you start looking for a mentor, figure out what you want a mentor for. Do you want to achieve your career goals, or work on your self-identity and emotional health? Do you want to make more money, or start a family?
So, the first tip on how to find a mentor is to be specific and clear about your goals for your mentoring relationship.
Spread the word that you want to find a mentor
Tell colleagues, friends, and family that you’re hoping to find a mentoring or coaching relationship. Be specific about your goals, whether it’s earning a higher salary or getting your PhD. The more people you tell, the higher your chances are of succeeding.
Look in your circle family and friends for possible mentors
You may have a natural mentor in your uncle, sister, mom or godfather – and you may not even know it! A mentor is someone who helps you plan your personal or professional goals, guides you toward smart decisions objectively, and helps you strategize for the future. If you have a healthy, strong-willed family member, a natural mentor may be closer than you think. A mentor doesn’t have to be a PhD or CEO to provide guidance!
Be open to mentors of the opposite sex
An important tip for finding a mentor is not to be focused on finding a same-sex mentor. Dr Faith-Anne Dohm of Fairfield University recently surveyed women in clinical psychology regarding their research and doctorate studies. She found that those who had research mentors during graduate school were twice as likely to continue doing research after getting their degree than those who did not have mentors. Dr Dohm also found that the gender of the mentor didn’t matter. So, when you’re trying to find a mentor, be open to all types of people.
Consider a long distance mentoring relationship
Emailing every few weeks could be just as helpful as meeting in person. Your mentor can live overseas or a different state or province, and still be effective in helping you set professional goals that are realistic and achievable. A coaching relationship can thrive over a long distance.
Talk to people you don’t know well, but admire (potential mentors!)
If you meet a possible mentor at a conference or business lunch, ask for her card. If you can’t quite summon the nerve to say you’re looking for a mentor, consider emailing the suggestion later. Most people are flattered at this type of request, and realize the value of helping others succeed. Many mentors have achieved their career goals through a mentoring relationship.
Consider an “impersonal” mentoring relationship
Another important tip for finding a mentor is to be open to e-mentoring or online mentors. You don’t have to know someone to be inspired by them! For instance, Oprah Winfrey is an unofficial or informal mentor to millions of women – but she certainly can’t meet with them or discuss their professional goals in person. Simply following her career or reading her magazine can help you achieve your goals.
Approach a mentor with specific goals
Your workplace or school is a natural place to find a mentor because it’s part of your daily life. When you approach a potential mentor, be clear about your goals. Do you want to meet every month and discuss your professional goals, such as how to earn a higher salary? The more clarity you have about your goals for the mentoring relationship, the more successful it (and you) will be.
Are you worried about approaching a possible mentor? Read How to Convince People to Say Yes – 5 Persuasion Techniques — it’ll give you the confidence you need!
Have you thought about Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring? Read Big Sisters Picnic – Our First Outing as Big and Little Sister.
Do you have any thoughts or questions on how to find a mentor, or mentoring relationships? Please comment below…