As a young professional just starting out, you’re bound to have questions, but who can you turn to for answers and advice? It’s time to find a mentor. A mentor is someone who can offer you solid advice about your career path, help you solve difficult problems, and is willing to share their expertise with you. Not only that, they can often help you to extend your network of contacts. Research has shown that those who have a mentor are more likely to receive promotions, have higher salaries, and higher job satisfaction over those without mentors. But how do you find this mythical unicorn? Here are some tips to make finding a mentor, not such a herculean feat.
What are you looking to get out of the relationship?
Decide exactly what it is you’re looking for from a mentor. What particular skill or area of knowledge you’re looking to improve? Seek out someone who is successful in that area already. You have to know what you want from the situation. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll have a much easier time finding the right person.
Seek, and Ye Shall Find
You can start with your own social network. Colleagues, friends, professors, bosses, and even individuals you know through friends and family can serve as a mentor. It really doesn’t matter as long as they have the skill or knowledge you’re looking to gain. It’s also okay to consider strangers if your own network seems to be coming up short. You can use online resources like LinkedIn to seek out someone with the necessary skills or knowledge. You could also try professional associations or organizations and even your alma mater’s alumni directory could produce some leads. It’s also okay to look outside your own profession as long as the skills or knowledge lines up.
Once you’ve located a potential mentor, you’ll need to reach out. Consider the life of the individual you’re contacting, what will work best for them? Be flexible. Life can be hectic and most people have busy schedules, so maybe meeting up for coffee after work isn’t the best option. It is important to meet your mentor where they’re at. Be considerate of your mentor’s time and other obligations. Where and how you connect isn’t as important as actually making the connection itself.
Not a One-Way Street
A mentoring relationship shouldn’t just be a one-way street. Consider what you might have to offer your mentor. Ask them if there is something you can do for them as well. You may have access to useful contacts or information that would be beneficial to your mentor. Remember, your mentor may be able to get something out of your relationship as well. Once you have a mentor, be sure to show your appreciation. If they offer advice or help you to achieve success, make sure to reach out to them and let them know their advice was beneficial. Everyone likes to be appreciated for their efforts.