Following on from my recent post on the 9 big benefits of having mentor, today I want to give you some advice on where to find a professional mentor and how to get the conversation started.
Where to find a mentor?
There are lots of ways to go about finding a mentor, here are a few common ones.
- Within your organisation – people often overlook the possibility of finding a suitable mentor inside their organisation. Even if you work in a small organisation there’s usually someone that could help you develop.
- Via LinkedIn – LinkedIn’s a great tool for identifying a potential mentor and finding leaders in your space. One piece of advice through, don’t contact people unless you’ve done your research (more on this below).
- Networking events – events are a great place to meet people, and suss out potential mentors. For local events check out Hunter Headline’s event guide or Eventbrite
- Online forums or communities – another way to find a mentor is by joining an online community or forum where likeminded people hang out. I’m part of Business Chicks a community of professional women. It’s a great place to meet people with similar businesses to mine and share experiences.
- Professional groups – groups like the Hunter Young Professionals, the Hunter Business Chamber or Newcastle Business Club are a good place to start if you are looking to connect with a mentor.
- Formal mentoring programs – these structured programs are facilitated by specialist mentoring organisations. You will be matched with a mentor, who is typically an industry expert; but it does come at a cost. Depending on your circumstances, this could be a fantastic investment. I highly recommend the folks over at McCarthy Mentoring who are leaders in this field.
How to reach out to a potential mentor?
It can be pretty daunting to approach a potential mentor. But there are certain things you can do to help you make a good first impression.
Be clear about why you need a mentor
Before you contact anyone, you need to be very clear why you need a mentor and what you want from the relationship. I’d suggest you write down your career goals and areas you want to develop.
For example, if I was a marketing graduate and wanted to work in a financial organisation, I may wish to reach out to a leader in the space to understand the role of digital and how it’s disrupting marketing in the financial industry. This way I could shape my training and development accordingly.
Do your research
One of the biggest mistakes I find people make when they are looking for a mentor is failing to do their research. Before you contact a potential mentor, you need to dedicate time to really understanding who you are reaching out to. This way you’ll be able to clearly demonstrate your understanding of their background, experience, qualifications and industry which will support your request for a meeting.
Making the approach
When you make contact you should include:
- a little bit about yourself, your goals and aspirations
- what you know about the potential mentor
- why you are asking for their help
People are generally very time poor so I would suggest asking them for just 30 minutes of their time. Through that initial engagement, you can gauge whether a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship can develop.
If you’re looking for a mentor and want some advice, give me a shout and I will do my best to help you out. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0448 811 091.