In a previous article, I talked about how mentorship has been helpful in my career journey. Naturally, the next thing should be to discuss how you can actually find a mentor. So in this article, we’ll dive even further while being realistic.
Basically, where do you find one? How does it even begin? Are you just supposed to go out there, discover some outspoken person and demand that he/ she become your mentor? Is this even a logical way to go about this?
A lot of times, we hear that you must have a mentor, everyone out there seems to be scouting for a mentor. I mean, in the last post, I argued for the case of mentorship and the fact that it has helped me. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t you want to find a mentor, right?
The truth is that many people don’t give much depth into mentorship and sometimes get distracted, lose their sense of authenticity and go about trying to find a mentor for the wrong ways. At some point, I took a step back to observe every other thing around me. One of the things I noticed is that some people follow a mentor for the crowd or attention.
What do I mean by this? So maybe this mentor is popular among your community, they decide to pursue this person to mentor them not taking into consideration other necessary factors. The question is: what is your motive?
1. Choose a mentor who you see yourself in
If your mentor is supposed to guide you, then it’s only practical that you’d want to see a reflection of your younger self in him/ her. Basically, does the goal and value of this person align with yours? Do you want to be like this person? Do you have the same interests?
If you are going to spend quality time with a person, you want to be sure that it’s a person you like and feel comfortable with. You need to be real with yourself and face facts about this. Don’t go seeking a mentor because it’s ‘cool’. Neither should you go after a person because he/ she has a presence. While these may seem nice for starters, along the line you might realize that you are incompatible and this isn’t what you want after so much time has been invested.
2. Discover what you need mentorship for
Why do you want a mentor exactly? What area do you think this mentor will add value to. The reason is that most often than not, some people don’t consider why a mentor is needed and end up starting a relationship with someone who isn’t the right fit.
For example, if you work in the marketing/ advertising industry, and your goal is to grow your career within the industry, it might not be beneficial to seek a mentor who works in a totally unrelated industry. Can this person really provide you value? It’s like being a new entrepreneur and looking to find a mentor in someone who is an ardent employee and wants to grow in their chosen industry. There will be a gap.
Read: Potent Career Strategies for Women
3. Assess your network
I’ve had someone tell me that she never realized that her husband could be her mentor. For a long time, she never really saw the potential forgetting that he had many years of experience when compared to her and was in her industry. She eventually took advantage of this and found it really beneficial as he turned out to be an additional mentor for her, providing her with insightful advice for work.
So look within, it might not be far fetched. Consider your previous colleagues, friends, friends of friends (tell your friend to give you a quick introduction), current colleagues, and professional circles. You can also look out for networking events.
Someone once said to me: “when you are looking for a mentor, don’t think small. Go big! Go as far as reaching to those in the executive level, those are the ones who want to reach back and help others coming up in their career.” This makes so much sense.
Think of it this way: at this level, they’ve seen it all (at least we’d want to believe that) and can honestly make one of the best mentors. However this plays out, you should also bear in mind that your colleagues can also make informal mentors from time to time since they work with you, study you to an extent and could have a different perspective to things.
4. Let it be organic
There is nothing as sweet as being organic and letting things happen naturally. When you try to force something, it doesn’t turn out well if we are being sincere. This theory should also be applied when souring a mentor. It’s important to reach out to the person after you are certain this is who and what you want. You can reach out to a number of people for starters. Ask for a coffee chat which shouldn’t take too much time as you should respect their time.
This will be an opportunity to ask well thought out questions, discuss your plans and also get to know the person. Is this person’s personality something you are comfortable with?
Relationships aren’t built overnight. It’s only natural for you to let it grow in a genuine way. Thank the person for his/ her time and let them know that you will like to discuss some career matters or follow up your discussion later in the future. It’s important to note that you just don’t walk up to a stranger and ask that they become your mentor, leaving the person with no option than to say ‘yes’.
5. Let it all play out, but do your part
If you’ve decided to get a mentor, then be willing to put in the work needed. Many times, we already know the answers to the questions we have, but we need someone to say it out loud. This is where your mentor can be very useful to your professional career, so if they tell you to do something afterward, you have to follow through. Try to put in the work and make their time and effort worth it. I think this is a good way of saying thanks for their advice and dedication.
Mentorship can be an interesting opportunity to find a person who is there to guide and hold your hands. This is the more reason why you should take your time to find the right person or at least, someone who you feel comfortable to be with because, if you are going to do anything, then you should do it right!
Do you have a mentor or are you considering it? Share your thoughts on the article and whether you’ll be applying these tips. Subscribe to the blog so that you are immediately updated once there are exclusive updates.