Complete Guide To Getting a Mentor

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 10, 2021 | Published November 12, 2020

Updated March 10, 2021

Published November 12, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether you're just starting you're career or you're looking to develop professionally, a mentor can provide you with valuable insight and guidance. By learning how to find a mentor in your field, you can ensure that you find someone that you connect with and that can help you grow. In this article, we explain why getting a mentor is so important for your professional development and success and provide the steps you should take when looking for a mentor.

Related: How To Find a Mentor

Why is it important to get a mentor?

A mentor is a professional with knowledge and experience that is willing to share their expertise and offer guidance to others. Getting a mentor is important because these individuals can:

  • Offer insight about your career path: Mentors can often help you view your career choices from a different perspective. This fresh insight allows you to understand your options and make the best decisions for your personal and professional goals.

  • Help you expand your network: Aside from being a great professional reference for your resume, a mentor can grow your professional network by introducing you to others in your field or industry.

  • Teach you how to overcome obstacles: Thanks to their experience and expertise, mentors can help you handle and overcome professional challenges.

  • Provide you with constructive feedback: A mentor can evaluate your skills and strengths and help you understand your growth opportunities.

  • Inspire and motivate you: In most cases, mentors are professionals that are successful in their field. Because of this, they can be great role models and sources of inspiration as you pursue your career path.

Related: What Is a Mentor?

How to get a mentor

If you're looking for a mentor, you should follow these simple steps:

1. Identify people you want to emulate

Instead of focusing your attention on people that have your ideal role or have achieved success, narrow your search to those that have similar values as you but possess skills or strengths that you hope to develop. You can find mentor candidates using a variety of methods, such as:

  • Join an online mentorship network. There are several sites and online programs that are designed to pair people with mentors. The cost associated with these networks varies, but they allow you to sign up, identify potential mentors in your industry and connect with them to see if they're a good fit. This option could allow you to develop a relationship with a mentor that is exclusively online.

  • Attend networking events. Networking events are great opportunities to meet new contacts, including potential mentors.

  • Sign up for a fitness class. Though people rarely attend fitness classes with the sole intent of meeting professional contacts, they can help you meet new people and grow your network.

  • Find opportunities to volunteer. Volunteering can put you into contact with people that share your interests and values. Though professionals often look for ways to give back to their community through volunteering, you might also meet individuals that have already retired. These individuals often have years of experience and expertise that can be extremely beneficial.

  • Go to industry events. If you're hoping to find a mentor that specializes in your field, attending industry-specific events can be a wonderful chance to meet prospective candidates. These types of events can be formal or informal and come in the form of trade shows, speaking events, networking events or conferences.

  • Search on social media. You can use keyword searches on various social media sites to find potential mentors. These sites allow you to evaluate a person's personality, reputation, professional interests and engagement level, enabling you to determine whether they'd be a good mentor candidate.

2. Familiarize yourself with the person

Once you've identified some potential mentors, try to get to know them by reading their blog, examining their professional portfolio and reviewing their social media profiles. This allows you to gain a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses and values so that you can determine if they align with your own. Based on the information you gather, you can narrow your list even further.

3. Schedule an informal meeting

Ask a potential mentor if they'd be interested in meeting for a quick coffee or another informal meetup option. Limit your initial meeting to an hour or less, just enough time to get acquainted with one another. Though you should prepare some questions ahead of time, let the conversation flow naturally. Additionally, pay attention to the person's communication style so that you can determine how formal you should be during your interaction.

4. Evaluate your connection

After your initial meeting, spend some time assessing the potential mentor's personality and how the interaction made you feel. For example, you should think about whether the person:

  • Encouraged you

  • Told you what to do

  • Asked questions

Mentorship is primarily about building a relationship, so you want to try and find someone that you connect with.

5. Follow up

Regardless of whether the person was a good fit, make sure that you send a follow-up message thanking them for their time. Email is typically the best mode of communication for this, but ultimately it depends on how you have already been communicating. If you felt they'd make a good mentor, mention that you'd be interested in meeting up again sometime and wait to see if they are interested.

6. Ask if they're interested in mentorship

Once both of you have had ample opportunities to vet one another and develop a connection, ask if mentorship is something they'd be interested in. In many cases, a mentoring relationship can naturally develop on its own, but it's always helpful to establish clear expectations for the kind of guidance you're looking for.

Related: How To Ask Someone To Be Your Mentor

7. Focus on growing the relationship naturally

Let the relationship with your mentor develop organically based on mutual trust and respect. In other words, give it time to grow and strengthen on its own over time.

Related: How To Make the Most of Your Mentor Relationship

8. Look for ways to strengthen your bond

The relationship you have with your mentor should feel like a friendship in many ways. You can strengthen your connection with them by looking for ways to connect. Depending on how busy they are, you may need to initiate meetings with your mentor by asking them to lunch or coffee.

9. Prepare to be challenged

One of the greatest benefits of having a mentor is that they can challenge you to experience new things and address your weaknesses. Learn how to receive constructive criticism so that you can get the most out of your relationship.

Related: 9 Questions To Ask Your Mentor

10. Ask for feedback

Though many mentors offer it on their own, you should also ask your mentor for feedback. Having a third-party point out your strengths and challenges can give you valuable insight that allows you to grow.

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