5 ways to find a mentor to advance your career

Mentorship is so important in moving yourself from one level to the next. Today I am sharing with you 5 ways to find a mentor.

Mentorship is so important in moving yourself from one level to the next regardless of what stage or field you are in. You can have a business mentor, a career mentor, a family mentor, a mentor for your goals in education. I have found mentorship to be helpful throughout my career and even now, I still draw upon wisdom and knowledge from mentors especially when making career decisions.

In this post I am focussing on how to find a mentor who can help you advance your career. I will also have a downloadable draft email of what you can send to someone to ask them to be your mentor. You need to subscribe to the blog to access this, so please do so at the bottom of the post.

There are 2 other blog posts in this series:

5 reasons you need a mentor to advance your career

5 things to do BEFORE you reach out to a mentor

Here are 5 ways a mentor can help advance your career.

1. Start within your circle

The cardinal rule about your career is: relationships, relationships, relationships so the first place to check is in your circle. Contact people you know and let them know what you are looking to get. One thing to remember is to always be professional regardless of how familiar you are with the person. Treat the mentor-mentee relationship seriously, come to them with a clear set of objectives you would like and whether it is a short-term, medium-term or a long-term mentorship.

Be sure to do the work: your mentor will not do the work for you so ask for advice, tips, direction and then GO and do it and report back if you need further guidance.

2. Ask someone to introduce you

If your current circle does not include anyone who could mentor you in the area you are seeking guidance, ask for someone in your circle to introduce you. Remember again to keep it professional, be clear on what you are seeking out the mentor/mentee relationship and even offer to draft an email with a blurb about you so that they can use this to introduce you.

When someone introduces you, make sure you follow up at least 24 hours after they send the email and no later. If you wait it out, you may ruin the relationship between the person in your circle and their network. Remember as always to be professional both with your acquaintance and the person who connected you. You can choose to keep them in the email chain or not - ask them for their preference. Do let your friend/acquaintance know what became of the connection.

3. Connect with someone at a networking event

Networking events are great for meeting new people outside of your direct and indirect circle. With COVID19 there are less in-person networking events. On the other hand there are many more virtual events that you can attend without paying the hefty travel and conference registration fees.

Networking events can be:

  • Conferences

  • Professional associations

  • Virtual and in-person meet & greets

  • Charitable campaigns at work

Express interest in the person's work and ask them if you can contact them to find out more. If the person is a speaker at an event, find their email address/contact information on the program or google them. Let them know that you heard them speak at XYZ event and that you would like to learn more about their work.

4. Connect with someone on social media

One of the nice things about social media is the social aspect. Professional networking websites such as LinkedIn are great for identifying people who could potentially mentor you. I will do a more comprehensive post on what to do. But the main thing to remember is don't friend someone and then less than 2 minutes later ask for something from them. Try to connect with people related to your interest and in your connection.

5. Cold-email someone

Cold emailing someone takes boldness but works. This is when you send an email to someone who has no connection to you whatsoever but whose profile you have found either through social media or through the website for an organization. With this kind of connection you need to be patient as a relationship will take time to develop. Aim to have a phone conversation - don't leave it on email alone. Before COVID19, this was probably more challenging to do. However, with alot of folks now working from home and having virtual calls, you can schedule a zoom call or MS Teams call.

Regardless of how you connect to a potential mentor, remember that you will need to be professional, you will need to do the work, you will need to have a clear picture of what you want to get out of the relationship: short, medium or long-term. Be the one to do the chasing and following up. You get into it what you put into it.

All the best!

You Got This!