A mentor is someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and has a specific area of expertise that you, as a professional, can build a relationship with for guidance. I like to think of mentors as dragons because they are so unique! Why dragons you may ask? This is because no one knows that they exist, what they do, or where to find them. However, mentors are real and they are out there in existance.
At this point, you are probably thinking to yourself:
Do I need a mentor?
What difference would it make if I did have a mentor?
I’m just fine on my own, I don’t need any help!
But the truth of the matter is that mentorship makes life easier and better. It has been proven that having a mentor allows you to expand your skills, help guide you to do the best at what you want to do, helps you build your network, and increases your chances of getting a referral. It has been found that mentors help avoid costly mistakes and make people feel stronger in their positions. Overall, people seem to make better decisions and land more jobs when they have a mentor in place.
This blog will be explaining how to find a mentor, how to speak to them, how to reach out to them, and ultimately build a relationship between yourself and a mentor. Here is everything you need to know in order to find one.
Where Do I Find One?
Now that we have established that you want a mentor, where do you find one? Finding a mentor can be done in one of two ways. You can ask someone that is already in your network whether you previously worked with them, knew them through school, is someone in your family, is a friend, or is anyone that you already know that comes to mind! Knowing the person you want as your mentor makes the process much easier. On the other hand, if you don’t already have someone in mind, it’s time to start look for someone new and the easiest way to do so is through LinkedIn. But don’t get scared or nervous, it can be hard to reach out to a total stranger asking for help and guidance. Below is a list of steps of how to execute the process in finding and connecting with a mentor.
Grooming Your LinkedIn Profile
Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-standards. Going through your profile and grooming it to be the best that it can be is important because it is a representation of who you are and what you are capable of. Make sure you look your best before reaching out to people.
Make sure you know why you want a mentor and what you are looking for. Make a list of things that you are hoping to gain as an individual and professional. Are you trying to level up one of your basic skills? Do you need more knowledge on a specific industry? Know where you are hoping to grow so that you can appropriately choose your mentor to align with your needs.
What Do You Want?
After you have determined your reasoning behind finding a mentor, it is time to start the search! Jump on LinkedIn and start searching for people who can bring what you want to the table. When searching, you shouldn’t be choosing professionals who are head of departments or chief office executives. No, no, you should be looking for people who have been in their career for 1- 10 years. These are people who are seasoned professionals, are knowledgeable, and will be more likely to respond. It is important that you are thoughtful and strategic about what level of professional you are reaching out to. Also, consider what you’d like to learn, what you’d like to do, and in what industry you’d like to focus. These are all components that will factor into your person of choice.
Reaching Out Directly
Once you have chosen the person you’d like to be your mentor, the next step is to reach out to them. How do you do this? You will shoot them a short, simple, and sweet message via LinkedIn giving a short summary of who you are and what you are looking for; not stating ‘Hi, I’m looking for a mentor.’ That is not what you are going to do. In your LinkedIn message, there are 5 aspects to include.
- What you do/ what you studied in college
- What you are interested in learning about
- Why you are reaching out to them
- CTA (call-to-action) - setting up a phone call
If the person accepts to chat with you on the phone, be professional (of course) and ask them lots of questions about what they do, what their interests are, and what they’re best at. It is important that you get to know more about them to decide whether or not they would be a good fit for you. After the phone call, send them a follow up email thanking them for their time and following that with a few things that you learned from them. Then, maybe in a couple months ask them for another call. In this phone call, ask about things outside of their work life to show that you care about them and that there is more to life than just work. At this point, the relationship is building and you should be interacting with them on LinkedIn on a regular basis and maybe even sending each other company blogs that the other might find interesting. You now have a mentor and they will be there for you when you need help whether it be with your resume or in referring you to a job. Be vulnerable and be yourself. The process of finding and getting a mentor happens over time. Don’t think that you are forcing anything, your mentor is there to help you!
Remember that this is your career, it is time for you to take charge of it and be the best you can be. If there’s something you need help with or a job you know you want, you need to outsource and ask for help. People put too much pressure on themselves and think asking for help is a sign of weakness, when in reality, it is the complete opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Your mentor will be there for you each step of the way, guiding you in the right direction.