If you’re looking to excel in a new area of life or business, you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to find a mentor. Successful professionals in every industry highly encourage it. And it’s not just a cliché: mentors have proven useful for years. Millions of professionals and entrepreneurs owe their success in part to dedicated mentors.
Whether you’ve just landed your first job or you're a seasoned professional who’s been working for a while now, having the opportunity to learn from someone who’s achieved what you want to achieve is extremely valuable. While the daily grind of working towards your goals can be stressful, having a mentor who cares about you and your professional journey can be a huge relief. A seasoned mentor can save tons of time and hardship. They may have valuable advice about your new product, how to land a new job, or even help you deal with the loneliness that comes with being at the top of the managerial pyramid.
It’s important that you choose someone who's empathetic about your needs, understands your goals, and sees your career trajectory. So in this article, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about how to find a mentor that fits your life perfectly.
What’s a Professional Mentor?
A mentor is someone who offers guidance, counsel, and advice stemming from their experience in a certain field. They establish a trust-based relationship where they lend a hand to a mentee and guide them on their journey towards their goals. The main purpose of mentorship is to show a less experienced person the ropes in a specific area, offer them advice that will help them align with their goals, and give them the tools to succeed in their field. There are a few key advantages of having a mentor. You'll be able to tap into your mentor's wisdom gained from years of experience. You’ll receive feedback about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can optimize your results. You'll establish connections and networks within your industry. You’ll be advised on what skillsets need to be built up and how to identify new opportunities. Sounds pretty good, right? So, let’s discuss how you can find a mentor that ticks all of your requirement boxes.
How to Find a Mentor
The process of finding a mentor will look different for everyone. Maybe it’s someone you already know; maybe you’ll have to do some outreach and networking. Regardless of your specific strategy, here are the main steps you should take to ensure you find someone who’s right for your career path.
Find someone who has achieved what your goals are – Spend some time researching your industry and shortlist a few individuals who fit the description. Look for someone that also has the time and empathy required to mentor you. A potential mentor should have a set of skills and strengths you seek to emulate through your interactions with them.
Research your potential mentor – Social media platforms have made it easier to study fitting candidates. Maybe you’ll find a blog that’ll give you insight into their mind, or maybe they’ve got a YouTube channel. You can learn a lot about a person by studying the public persona they project through their online presence.
Don’t be shy – It may be a good idea to refrain from talking about mentorship the first time you contact them. Instead, take it slow at the beginning. Ask if they’d like to meet for an informal meeting, like at a coffee shop. Let them know you’re new to the field and ask if you can pick their brain. This is your opportunity to see if you connect. You can learn about how formal or informal they are and then fine-tune your tone your approach accordingly. Let the conversation flow naturally but also make it a point to ask some intelligent questions that you’ve prepared in advance. If you feel like they’re a good potential mentor, then be honest and ask if it’s something they might consider. Be confident when you ask, and tell them why you’d like them in specific to mentor you.
Evaluate your interactions honestly – Make sure that your potential mentor’s someone who shares real valuable information with you and not fluff. Be honest with yourself and determine if they’re the right option or not. Ask yourself some honest questions like: Do the interactions make you want to spend more time with them? Do you feel better about yourself after the meetings? Are they encouraging and do they show concern about your career trajectory? Do they ask you questions? Is their advice insightful and applicable to your daily routines and work life? Do you feel like a connection’s been made or is it too superficial? If you’ve answered most of these questions positively, then you’ve probably found a good match.
Follow up after your first interaction – After you’ve made initial contact, remember to follow up. It’s important to show some gratitude for the time they took out of their schedule to interact with you. Make this as non-intrusive as you can; an email is a great option. This is also a good opportunity to confirm if they’d like to meet up again. If you get a green light from them, then let them know what you’d like to discuss next. Make sure your meetings are relaxed, so that you can have good and honest conversations.
Allow the bond to form organically – Like all relationships, you’ll need to give it time to grow and flourish. If you come off as overbearing and demand too much time too often, it could be very off-putting and drive them away. You’re expected to let the bond grow based on mutual trust and respect.
Choose a mentor who challenges you – As time passes and you both start to open up to each other, chances are your mentor will grow bolder. They’ll likely start to question you or point out where you could improve in certain areas of personal development. You might feel a little threatened or insecure at first if you’re out of your comfort zone, but hang in there and listen to what they’re teaching you. Don’t retreat, because constructive criticism is where the biggest growth can happen. You don’t want a mentor who refuses to challenge you.
Make the most of your bond – Remember, it’s up to you to make the most of these interactions with your mentor. Once you feel the bond is in place, then it’s time to ask for more guidance, but not before then. If your mentor can't be your friend first, then the relationship will seem a little hollow and they’ll be less likely to help you.
Ask for feedback– Most people have an unjustified fear of asking for feedback due to insecurity. You'll have to rise above your insecurities and learn how to look forward to criticism and feedback since it will lead to true growth. The mark of a truly great mentor is that they’ll weigh their words before issuing any feedback, and make you feel encouraged and excited to make shifts in your life.
Cement the bond over time – If you’ve found your dream mentor who helps you continuously grow, then make sure to keep the bond alive. You’ll likely want to have their counsel in the long run, so it's important to maintain the relationship.
Final Tips on Finding The Right Mentor
Before you look for a mentor, get clear on what your goals are. What do you want your life to look like, and is the direction you’re headed going to help you get there? If so, you’re on the right path and you can begin to search for your perfect mentor.
Keep in mind that not everyone will agree to becoming a mentor, so if you strike out once or twice, don’t take it personally. Be aware of cues that they may not have time to guide you, like missed meetings or hasty email responses. They may have a lot going on, or maybe they simply don’t know how to mentor you. Whatever their reasoning is, just move on gracefully and thank them for their time.
If you’re looking for a mentor in a new industry in tech, then Thinkful may be a great option for you. We’ve got a ton of bootcamps designed to help you reach success in your field, and you’ll also receive a 1-on-1 mentor. They’ll help you with any troubles you’re having during your bootcamp, and they’ll also help you land the job of your dreams post-grad. It’s a great option if you want a qualified mentor and a solid education all in one place.
If you're not sure which direction you want to go, but you want a mentor to help you figure it out, you may be looking for a lifestyle coach instead. They’re more tailored towards people who want to discover their path instead of people who know what their path is. So, if that’s more of a fit for you, then there are tons of great coaches out there who can help you out. Don’t get discouraged, you’ll find the ideal mentor for your needs as long as you put in the work to find one. Best of luck on your search!