If you’ve found this article chances are you already know why you want to find a mentor, but in case you need a quick recap, here’s:

Why you need to find a mentor

  • Someone who’s successful in your field has probably had the same problems you’re having now. They can guide you through them and help you learn from their mistakes. Equally, talking through a problem can help you find solutions you may not have already thought of
  • Mentors can be impartial. They can look at a problem from an outsider’s point of view rather than being bogged down in all the day-to-day
  • Finding a mentor helps you keep on track and motivated, and helps you believe you can do it
  • Mentors are useful if you’re looking to bounce your ideas off someone. Sometimes talking through an idea can help you expand it
  • Mentors can help connect you with useful people in their network

So now you know why you need a mentor it’s time to work out who your mentor should be.

What do you want from your mentor?

Before you start finding a mentor it’s important to ask yourself what you want from the relationship. We’ve outlined some of the benefits above, but some other factors to think about in this process are:

  • Your strengths and weaknesses – it’s useful to find a mentor who can complement these
  • Your industry and any other sectors you’re interested in – while it may be helpful to find someone in a different industry a mentor should also be able to give you specific, personal advice
  • Your goals – a mentor should be ahead of you in achieving your goals and be able to help you move towards them
  • What would you like to learn?
  • How often would you like to meet? And where? If you’re happy with a virtual mentor that’s great, but it’s important to feel close to your mentor so meeting face-to-face is worth considering
  • Do you have specific personal, business, academic and sporting goals? If you find your interests are diverse it may be beneficial to have more than one mentor. Just make sure you don’t have too many as it’s important to develop personal, long-term relationships and conflicting advice will only confuse you more

Don’t ask a stranger to be your mentor

You should be able to connect with your mentor on a personal level, and admiring someone’s success and career doesn’t always translate into a strong relationship. The best way to find a mentor is through people you already work and interact with. These people will see your potential, like you and trust you.

If you do have someone specific in mind as a mentor you can always reach out to them for a coffee and see if things naturally progress from there. Alternatively, try to attend events they’re attending or see if there’s anything you can do to help them with. Tweet their posts, follow their work, refer them business, start conversations around their posts on social media. There are hundreds of ways to connect with a stranger and add some value to their lives.

Find a mentor organically

This goes back to the last point. Don’t message someone out of the blue asking ‘will you be my mentor’. Add value to their lives, meet them at events and from there build a relationship.

Think about what you’ll say

At the start of the relationship it’s important to be specific about what you’re looking for. For example, are there particular areas of your career or business you need help with?

Use the word “mentor” as a verb more than you use it as a noun. For example:

“Some mentoring to help me work out how to grow my business over the next year would be really helpful. Would you mind going for coffee with me so I can run through some strategies with you?” is a great way to find a mentor.

“Can you be my mentor so I can grow by business next year?” is an example of a way not to find a mentor.