Have you ever been in a situation – facing a conflict with a client, struggling to break through a challenge on a new project, or finding it difficult to market yourself – when you wish you had someone to give you the right answers? A mentor may be what you need. While a mentor doesn’t exactly solve all of your problems, he or she can provide advice when you need it, support you through problems, and help you become better at what you do.
The Role of a Mentor
A mentor acts as your coach, sounding board, advisor, and cheerleader all at the same time. A mentor can guide and support you while helping to identify resources that will enhance your work and your ability to set and reach goals. Sometimes, a mentor will even play devil’s advocate to help you think outside the box and develop new solutions that you may not have thought of on your own.
As your backer, a mentor can support you publicly, help you become established in your industry and expand your network by introducing you to other successful professionals.
What to Look for in a Mentor
The qualities that make a mentor a good fit for you are likely going to be very specific to your situation. But there are some general qualities you should look for in someone you are considering as a mentor. Your mentor should be:
- Available and willing to share their time with you
- Respected by their colleagues
- A good listener
- A positive role model
- Honest and straightforward
- Willing to share their knowledge and experience
- Respectful towards you
- Inspiring and enthusiastic
How to Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is not an easy task. Unless you already have a personal contact that may be a good fit as your mentor, you will have to do some exhaustive research. Some places you may want to look include:
- Employer or past employer
- SCORE (in the U.S.)
- College alma mater or alumni association
- Professional organization
- Online networking outlets
- Family and friends
Once you find a potential candidate, you will want to get introduced (or introduce yourself), make sure they are an appropriate fit professionally, get a feel for the rapport, and then pitch the idea of becoming your mentor. Yes, it’s a lot of work and there are a lot of steps that go into finding a mentor, but it can be well worth the effort.
- Finding a Mentor, by Penelope Trunk on Forbes.com
- Seven Tips for Finding a Great Mentor, by Jamie Walters on Inc.com
- Jumpstart Your Career: Find a Mentor, by Allison Tibbs on Examiner.com
Do you have a mentor? How does he/she help you in your career and where did you find him/her?
Image credit: Ayhan Yildiz
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