How to Find A Mentor

Learn how to successfully find a mentor who can guide you on your professional journey.

Identifying Your Goals, Needs and Capacity

Having a mentor has a number of benefits, however don't rush into finding a mentor before you have taken the time to reflect on why you want one.

Spend time identifying your goals (what are your key goals right now?), needs (what do you need help with?), and capacity (do you have the time and headspace for mentoring and reflection?). Take some time to reflect on what you hope to achieve and what areas you need guidance in. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, as well as any specific skills or knowledge you want to develop. This self-assessment will help you identify the type of mentor you need and the areas where they can provide valuable guidance.

Another important aspect of identifying your goals, needs, and capacity is understanding your own availability and commitment level. Most mentoring sessions will go for one hour. Then there is the time to prepare for each meeting and follow-up actions. Brancher's general rule is that mentoring takes about 2 hours per month (1 hour to meet, 1 additional hour for prep/follow up).

Mentoring relationships require time and effort from both parties, so it's important to assess your own capacity to dedicate time to the mentorship. Be realistic about your availability and make sure you can commit to the responsibilities that come with having a mentor.

Researching Potential Mentors

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, needs, and capacity, it's time to start researching potential mentors. Look for individuals who have experience and expertise in the areas you're interested in. This could be someone within your current organization, industry, or a professional network. Consider attending industry events, conferences, or workshops where you can meet potential mentors in person.

You can also utilise online platforms and professional networking sites to find mentors. LinkedIn, for example, has a feature that allows you to search for professionals in specific fields or industries. Take the time to read their profiles, explore their backgrounds, and see if their experience aligns with your goals and needs. Additionally, consider reaching out to colleagues, friends, or contacts who may be able to recommend potential mentors.

If you are a part of a business or industry based association, see if they have a mentoring program in place that you can participate in. If they don't - mentoring software platforms such as Brancher can make it easy for businesses to facilitate effective mentoring programs.

Reach Out

Once you have identified potential mentors, it's time to reach out. This can feel like the most daunting part, but it doesn't have to be. When reaching out, be clear about your intentions and explain why you are interested in meeting with them. You might want to give them a compliment on their past experience - anything specific helps to highlight that you are specifically interested in meeting with them.

Follow Up, If Necessary

Everyone is busy and messages can be easily lost or forgotten about. It's important to balance persistence with respect for their time and boundaries. Here's a general guideline for follow-ups:

  1. First Follow-up:

    • Send a polite follow-up email after about a week if you haven't received a response. Keep it brief and friendly, mentioning your previous message and expressing your continued interest in meeting for coffee.
  2. Second Follow-up:

    • If you still haven't received a response after another week or so, consider sending a second follow-up email. Again, keep it polite and respectful, reiterating your interest in meeting and suggesting a few alternative dates or times for the coffee.
  3. Final Follow-up (Optional):

    • If you've sent two follow-ups and still haven't heard back, it's generally best to assume that the person may not be interested or available at this time. Instead, you can send them a note to let them know that you understand they must be busy at this time and that you hope to hear from them in the future if they're interested at a better time. Sending anything beyond this point is not recommended as it may come across as pushy or intrusive.

If you don't have any luck with a response from the first person you reach out to, don't be disheartened. Instead, reach out to someone else. Sometimes you might need to reach out to a couple of people before you find someone who is available to meet with you, especially if you're reaching out cold. To increase the chance of someone responding, leverage an introduction from someone in your network if possible.

Start With An Informal Catch Up

Once you have found someone to meet with, start with an informal catch up (in person is always best, or use a digital platform that enables video technology). During your initial interactions, focus on building a connection and establishing rapport. Show genuine interest in their work and ask thoughtful questions. Be respectful of their time and availability, and always follow up with a thank-you note or email after your conversations. 

Assess Compatibility

The biggest predictors of mentoring outcome success are whether there is deep level compatibility between the mentee and mentor. This means - do you share similar values and personality traits? Differences are important too - but you must both feel a genuine connection in order to bond and build rapport. Other factors such as the mentor's skills and experience might also matter, depending on your own personal goals.

Ask Them To Be Your Mentor

If the first meeting goes well, you could ask at the end of that meeting whether they would be willing to meet again. If you have connected with a mentor as part of a formal mentoring program, it's recommended you complete a Mentoring Agreement to document shared expectations, boundaries and commitments. You can agree on things such as meeting frequency and duration and who will set-up meetings and agendas (Brancher recommends the mentee drives the relationship).

If you have connected with a potential mentor outside of any formal mentoring program or software, you can ask whether they are willing to mentor you. This can be the most scary/awkward part - but it doesn't have to be. Generally people like helping other people, so if your first meeting went well, simply ask them "How would you feel about doing this again, in a mentoring style of relationship? I think your experience in [X] would be really beneficial for what I'm looking to work through in [Y]. I'd be really grateful for your time."

When asking someone to be your mentor, it's important to remember that they may have other commitments and responsibilities. Be understanding if they decline your request, and be open to exploring other mentoring opportunities. 

Show Commitment, Professionalism and Gratitude

Once you have found a mentor and they have agreed to guide you on your professional journey, it's important to show commitment, professionalism, and gratitude. Treat your mentor's time and expertise with respect by being prepared and punctual for your meetings. Show that you value their guidance by actively listening and implementing their advice.

Maintain open and honest communication with your mentor, providing regular updates on your progress and any challenges you may be facing. Be receptive to feedback and willing to make necessary adjustments. Additionally, express your gratitude for their guidance and support. A simple thank-you can go a long way in nurturing a strong mentoring relationship.

Request a demo with Brancher today to learn how to create a powerful mentoring program with ease.

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