how to find a mentor

Having a mentor, especially at the early stages of your career, can be invaluable. You get someone who can advise you on career decisions, help you navigate tricky situations, and even just suggest ways to succeed at the more mundane aspects of office life.

There’s a lot of advice out there that tells you to approach someone and ask them to set up a formal mentoring relationship with you. While I don’t doubt that plenty of people have had success with this approach, I don’t think you need to set up something so formal. Instead, some of the best mentoring relationships can develop naturally without ever being officially labeled.

1. Look for people who you’re already naturally clicking with. The strongest mentor relationships are ones that aren’t forced, but rather ones that develop naturally from good chemistry between you and the mentor.

2. Ask questions about them: “How did you do that?”  “Why did you decide to handle that altercation in the meeting that way?”  “What was behind your decision to revamp this project?”  Watch them in action, and then talk with them about why they made particular choices.

3. Ask questions about you: “What do you see in my performance or approach that would I could do better?” “How can I be perceived as more ___?” “If I want to get from x to y in my career, how do I do that?”

4. Talk to them about dilemmas you’re facing in your job and what your thought process is on how to handle it. Ask for advice. Run your proposed solution by them and see what they say.

5. Be worth mentoring. This means that you take their advice seriously and genuinely want to excel and advance in your career. A smart mentor will quickly lose interest otherwise.

{ 1 comment… read it below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Having a mentor has made all the difference in my career (and career search). I found that I just happened to click really well with someone in the office, and they kind of took me under their wing. I don't imagine it happens that quickly or easily for everybody, but even a slightly more formal relationship can be beneficial as well.

    And always, always thank them for their help and advice.

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