5 Ways to Find A Professional Mentor

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When I think about my career path, great mentors were instrumental in helping me succeed.  Mentors not only helped me when I was stuck in a career rut, but also provided inspiration and insight on my path of entrepreneurship.

Are you looking to build your business or get a leg up on your career? Want to master a skill without spending years trying figure it out alone?

Many entrepreneurs and aspiring startup owners know a mentor could benefit them but are unsure of how to find one. “How can I approach a potential mentor?” is a question I commonly hear.

Ask a colleague

1. Where to look?

Internally, we’ve seen mentor and mentee relationships benefit both parties and it has helped us foster a culture of open dialog and education.

A colleague can be a current or former schoolmate, teammate, or even a coworker. These are people who have been in a similar environment and have achieved success.

And there’s no need to stay within the boundaries of your own organization. You can find mentors at a professional networking event or other industry meetup.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you can find a mentor among entrepreneurs who’ve achieved success in your niche.

2. How to start a dialog

Before asking a colleague to mentor you long-term, it’s helpful to start with an informal meeting over coffee or lunch. You can use this time to get to know the person and see if you’re a good fit for each other.

Send a follow-up message to thank them for your time and if you’re interested, ask for a second meeting where you can talk about a possible mentorship.

Remember that not everyone has the time for or interest in mentoring, so allow your potential mentor the freedom to say no.

2. Find someone who’s good at your dream skill

1. Where to look?

No matter what you want to learn, someone out there is already wildly successful at it. They’ve spent months or years in trial and error, figuring out what works. They’ve perfected their craft and are enjoying the fruits of his work.

Since he’s already achieved success, a mentor can show you the best path to get there. A mentor can tell you what works and prevent you from experiencing his failures.

You can find these people in online communities or courses that teach the skills you’d like to learn. Or find a local Meetup of people who share a certain skill, hobby, or professional interest.

2. How to start a dialog

You’ll probably find a lot of people who have the skills you’re looking for. You’ll then want to evaluate them to see if they’re fit to be a mentor.

Find someone who can demonstrate their ability. If she claims to be skilled in sales, does she have the results? If he’s a surfer, can he show it?

It’s best to avoid rushing into a mentorship based on someone’s qualifications or what they tell you in conversation. You don’t want to find out later that he doesn’t have the skills he claims to have.

3. Find bloggers and online mentors

1. Where to look?

You can easily find online services that provide mentors to you for a fee. Find a Mentor connects you with skilled people in almost 2,000 categories, while RookieUp connects aspiring creative professionals with design mentors. You can find mentor services in a huge array of categories

Another way is to search for blogs and LinkedIn accounts in your field that demonstrate success and authority. You can easily find contact information and ask  if she’s interested in the idea of mentoring.

2. How to start a dialog

With online relationships, it’s easy to abandon ship when the mentorship becomes challenging. A good mentor will challenge you to push your limits so you can grow, but it’s never enjoyable at the time.

It’s tempting to run away, but staying committed and doing the work will lead to real growth and results.

Mentoring isn’t done in a day, or even a few months. It takes real time to see the fruit, so it’s worth staying.

4. Someone with years of experience

1. Where to look?

Anyone around you can be a mentor. This is a great choice for you if you don’t have a specific career goal or skill that you’d like to obtain, but you’d like to improve your life through a mentor relationship.

Choose someone you know who has a lot of life experience, or has experienced something that you’re going through right now. He may have lived longer or overcome difficulties early in life.

These people can challenge you to become stronger, overcome your weaknesses, and make the right decisions when life gets tough.

2. How to start a dialog

A mentor is someone who’s achieved success in an area, so don’t choose someone who’s struggling with the same thing you are. Those people are good for support, but they won’t be able to teach you how to get success if they haven’t reached it yet themselves.

5. Someone you want to be like

1. Where to look?

Our Instagram feeds are full of people with beautiful bodies, lavish vacations, and delectable, perfectly-prepped desserts. Most of us passively scroll by, wishing we could have those things. And that’s okay–it’s normal to feel envious of others when they have good things.

But the truth is, we have the power to choose to become who we want to be.

Why not find a person you admire–whether he or she has great cooking skills, impeccable style, or a great personality–and ask them to help you get there too?

If you’re nervous to ask, think about how you would feel if someone approached you. Most people would be flattered that someone admires them and wants to learn from them.

2. How to start a dialog

Once you’ve found someone you admire who’s willing to mentor you, make sure to approach the mentorship proactively.

Don’t expect the other person to know what you need. Come prepared with questions, requests for advice and feedback, and clearly communicate your goals and schedule.

And don’t forget to say thank you!

Mentors are everywhere you look. You can get started now– grab a piece of paper, write down your top 5 goals, and commit to finding a mentor that will help you to reach them.

Written By
Bill Pettit is the president of Seattle-based R.D. Merrill Company, the parent company of Merrill Gardens, which has over 30 communities offering independent living, assisted living and memory care across six states.