Do you need someone to help you navigate your career, overcome challenges, identify pitfalls, inspire you to get a promotion, or start a side-hustle? Then you might need a mentor. But how to find the right mentor? You can take the three steps below or join a mentoring program to do some of the work for you. However, remember that finding the right mentor starts with you.
1. Identify your goals
Before you start searching for a mentor, identify your goals in the short and the long term. Think about your interests, strengths, and weaknesses and decide what you want to work on and improve in the next couple of months as well as in a few years. These are your short-term and long-term goals.
Are you satisfied with your present position or eager to get a promotion? Maybe you are too comfortable in your current job (learn how to recognize that here) and want to make a career switch (watch our step-by-step guide here). Whatever the case, do your research before you make a decision. Read books and articles, watch TED talks, follow influencers from your field of interest, and try to learn as much as possible before searching for a mentor.
Once you get a better understanding of what role or industry you are interested in, summarise your learnings into a few points. Do some of the information connect to your current skill set? Do they resonate with your interests? Can you see areas for improvement? What is your motivation, and which particular aspect of your dream career are you the most excited about? Be sure you can answer all of these questions before you reach out to your potential mentor.
2. Build a mentor’s persona
Ok, so now you know what you want to achieve. What next? Should you randomly start messaging people on LinkedIn and asking them to mentor you? No! Looking for a mentor is a long (and lengthy) process, so be prepared to invest a lot of time and energy into finding someone who would be willing and available to mentor you. Or you can apply for a mentoring program if you want a team of professionals to find the perfect mentor for you.
If you prefer to do it the DIY-way, start with creating a list of people you admire with reasons why. Are they celebrities? Are they successful entrepreneurs? Are they your friends or even family? Write down the names of anyone you can think of and describe the reasons why you admire them. Is it because of their achievements? Their personality? The way they act in a difficult situation? Is it because of their status? Try to think of as many reasons as possible and write them all down. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for you to find your ideal mentor. Make sure you invest enough time and energy into these initial stages.
BE SURE YOU KNOW: whether you want a mentor or a sponsor (read about the difference here). They both provide guidance, but a mentor's role is to share their wisdom, whilst a sponsor will also help you create new work opportunities. Remember to incorporate this into your decision-making.
Once you have a good idea of who you admire, examine the places where you could find similar people. The easiest way is to start with your current network. Is there someone you know who could introduce you to a person you admire? Is it your boss, colleague, or a friend? If there is a mutual connection, utilize it. Get in touch, arrange a (virtual) coffee, or request an email address. And if they say no, thank them and move onto your next connection.
If your network is limited or not relevant to your interests, focus instead on the web. There are endless online communities, mastermind groups, networking events, meetups, etc. which you can find on social media and other platforms. You can find some inspiration in the Femme Palette community. Many of these events are free or at a reasonable price, so make sure you check what’s available to you and sign up.
TIP: Don’t focus on your current location, benefit from being online, and join events that are taking place on the other side of the world. The sky's the limit!
However, if this sounds like a lengthy process to you (which it is), there are always ways how you can be more effective. For example, you can apply for a mentoring program that will do the matching for you. Some of the available programs in the Czech republic are Odyssey Mentoring Program, BCC Equilibrium Mentoring Program for Women, or Femme Palette. Those programs are in English, so you are not restricted by language or location. You submit your application, and they choose a mentor for you based on your set of requirements. It not only ensures that the mentor will be the right fit for you but also guarantees his/her commitment during the mentoring process. And if there is a problem, you can always reach out to the team and be sure they will take care of the issue for you.
3. Start a conversation
When you decide on who you want your mentor, and you manage to get their contact details, start easy. Don’t rush into discussing your goals and achievements right away. Instead, try to get to know your potential mentor and learn more about them. Once you establish a friendly relationship, start discussing your goals and why you would like them to mentor you. If they agree and your mission resonates with them, they might agree to be your mentor. But be prepared for an exchange of multiple messages or having to arrange a call before you start discussing your objectives. Mentoring is a relationship, and as such, it needs to be nurtured and developed gradually over time. Nevertheless, having an elevator pitch ready with clearly set out goals and expectations will help you move forward more swiftly and successfully.
Once you find your mentor, you become a mentee, which brings several responsibilities (read how to be a good mentee here), such as arranging the meetings or creating an agenda before you meet. This is when the initial stage comes in useful. If you clearly define your goals at the beginning, deciding on what you want to discuss with the mentor should be a piece of cake. Therefore, ensure you invest quality time into defining your goals, and the rest will come.
FINAL TIP: If you need help with clarifying your goals or deciding on what steps to take next in your career, schedule a career consultation with Femme Palette and get the career advice you need.