See, I told you this was coming.
Now that you know you want a mentor you’re likely wondering how to get one. Do you just walk up to someone and ask, “Will you be my mentor?” Don’t laugh – that can actually work. There are many people that will be thrilled to know that you’d like to be mentored by them and unless they are so incredibly busy that they don’t have time for personal relationships they will likely agree to it.
I’m from the school of thought that mentor relationships should be more naturally occurring. These are the ones that tend to be most successful.
Here are some tips to guide you in your quest for the perfect mentor:
• Consider what it is you’d like a mentor to do for you. Do you want to meet people? Then your mentor will need to be well connected in the industry you work in and they will need to be fairly social people. Do you want advice? Then your mentor should be older than you and have at least 10 years experience or more.
• Watch people you work with. Who do you get along with? Are there certain people that are more approachable than others? Who have you had conversations with? Is there anyone in particular that holds a job similar to what you would like to have or has the respect of their peers? Write out a list of possible mentors and watch them over a period of time. Search them out in conversation. Ask questions in a casual setting. Over a month or two someone should stand out.
• Once you’ve picked someone you have two choices – you can directly ask them to mentor you or you can test them out by asking them for help or advice. Ask if you can set up a meeting with them to get their opinion on something. If they turn you down more than twice they are likely not your mentor. If they agree to it but after the meeting you find that they are not quite the person you thought they were then they are not likely your mentor. If they agree to a meeting and after you leave you feel like the world is at your fingertips – you’ve found your mentor. Ask them if you can come and see them again and if they agree again then you’ve got an informal mentorship. If you want it to be more formal, ask them if they will mentor you.