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6 Steps to Finding a Mentor

By Crystal Shepherd

Finding a mentor is pivotal to your triumphs— connecting with someone who is experienced in your field can help you gain inside knowledge, tips, and motivation for your own successes.

Research shows a significant relationship between workplace mentorship and career attitudes. In fact, mentorship positively affects psychological attitudes and outcomes so much that it seeps into other areas of life: positive self-image, emotional adjustment, and psychological well-being. In short, one of the best ways to ensure that your hard work pays off and that you find success through work is to find this type of guidance and support. Not only will your career benefit, but your entire life attitude will see positive shifts, too.

The question you should ask is not if you should find a mentor, but how to find one that is well-matched for your goals. We’ve compiled a few tips for finding, and maintaining a productive relationship with, a superstar mentor.

Find someone who inspires you.

Make sure to research the potential mentor before reaching out to them, as it’s essential that your values align. It’s important that your mentor exhibits the traits, strengths, and skills of someone that you aspire to be. This is a person that you hope to have a longterm relationship with and who you’ll trust to guide you to success, so you should share ideas of what hard work and prosperity look like.

Meet them!

This can be the most intimidating part of finding a mentor. The appropriate process depends on your potential mentor’s communication style, and the type of relationship you have with them. It might be appropriate to email them, or to connect with them on LinkedIn. If they’re a casual person, it is entirely proper (and often preferred) to start with a meeting that is low-pressure and casual. Consider asking them to grab coffee or lunch with you. Don’t skip this step and directly ask them to be your mentor. Mentor/mentee relationships are just like any other relationship, and you want them to grow organically. Spend time with the person to ensure they’re a good fit— it’s essential to the longevity of your relationship.

Be prepared with questions.

In almost every circumstance, it is too much to come out of the gates asking someone to be your mentor. Make sure your first meetings provide sufficient information for you to make a well-informed decision. Ideally, you should walk away answering the following questions: Do you want to spend more time with this person? Did they inspire you and leave you feeling encouraged? Did they seem invested in you and your career goals?

Make “The Ask” and be sure to follow up.

If all of the above questions resulted in resounding yeses, at this point, it’s okay to come off as ambitious. Show your investment and dedication to the relationship. Be sure to thank them, request to meet more frequently, and then ask them to be your mentor!

As the relationship develops, be sure that you stay transparent and honest, and that your expectations of one another are realistic. Meeting times, frequency, and amount of work expected from one another should be clearly laid out and reassessed as often as needed.

Request feedback. Stay when it gets challenging.

This isn’t a one-sided relationship, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more feedback from your mentor. A mentor should be honored and thrilled to support you. An ideal mentor can balance being critical and supportive, so it’s a good sign when the relationship gets to a place where your mentor can call you out. This is the magic of it all— don’t feel pushed away when the work becomes difficult!

Commit!

As with all relationships, fostering a mentor-mentee relationship will take time. These relationships can pay off in big ways, so be sure to take advantage of the entire experience!

Success grows somewhere in the depths of challenge and commitment— it isn’t made overnight. It takes time, consistency, and a willingness to grow and improve. It’s proven that the benefits of being a mentee improves career and work attitudes. There really isn’t any reason to not seek out mentorship. So go find your all-star mentor, and open doors that would otherwise be closed. This is what you signed up for, and it’s well-worth it!

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March 11, 2020

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