Having a career mentor is a really useful part of your professional development – they’ve been there, done that, can offer you some impartial advice and can help you grow as a person.
But one of the most difficult things to do is to find someone who you not only want to mentor you, but is also willing to give up some of their free time to assist you in climbing the career ladder.
With that in mind, here are some tips on finding the perfect career mentor for your journey.
1) Identify What You Want
Before you go out in search of a mentor, you need to take a step back and think about why you want or need someone to offer you regular advice in your professional life.
It’s pointless looking for a mentor for the sake of it – so there needs to be a clear objective for building this relationship.
Whether it’s to help you network more effectively, progress within a particular industry or provide you with useful contacts, identifying what you hope to get out of the relationship will enable you to make a wise choice when it comes to selecting your ideal mentor.
2) Look Outside Your Comfort Zone
Depending on what you want a mentor for, there are endless places you can look for professionals to help your development.
If it’s progression within your existing company that you need help with, it’s a good idea to try and find a colleague who’s taken a similar career path to the one you’re hoping to follow to act as your mentor, as they’ll have all the inside knowledge that will be invaluable to you.
However, if your objectives are less focused on one particular business then consider looking further afield. A family member or friend can sometimes be the best option as they’ll be totally honest with you no matter what, but equally someone you meet at a networking event or business organization like the Chambers of Commerce could be just what you’re looking for.
Also, your online network shouldn’t be discounted. Check out your contacts on the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter for individuals you’d love to chat with on a professional level.
3) Put Together A Schedule
Once you’ve found the perfect mentor and they’ve agreed to help you out, it’s time to put plans in stone for when you’ll meet as without this, things can fizzle out and you won’t get the advice you’re looking for.
Suggest dates and times for meetings and how regularly you’ll get together to see if this fits in with your mentor’s schedule, because it’s useless having a mentor who’s too busy to spend time with you, so it’s important that you’re both on the same page.
4) Agree On Topics For Discussion
Once you’ve agreed on a meeting structure and the ball’s rolling, it’s a good idea to pre-plan discussion topics.
While this might seem a bit formal and rigid, it’s useful because your mentor can then come prepared with some pointers when you meet, and you’ll both know what you’ll be discussing so you’ll never be stuck for things to talk about.
This also ensures that you get the most out of the relationship because – while it’s nice to build a personal relationship with your mentor – it’s also important to remember why you approached them in the first place, and make sure you do talk (some!) business.
So there we go, some tips on finding the perfect career mentor.
Do you have any tips or experiences you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community