Finding the right mentoring relationship can be an excellent tool for professional growth. A mentor can help you find a new job, acquire a promotion, or help you find the ever-important work-life balance. Mentoring is often viewed as an informal process and can be challenging to find a starting point. But before you can get that promotion, or raise, or find a new job, you have to find a mentor!
Define Your Goals
Before you can even ask someone to be your mentor, you have to figure out what you want to accomplish professionally in the next three to six months. The more specific you can be with your goals, the easier it will be to find the right person to b your mentor. The easiest way to define your goals is to create SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. Knowing your goals will help you break down more lofty ideas into smaller, individual goals that are easier to accomplish.
Know Your Network
One of the easiest ways to find a mentor is by looking in your already existing network. These individuals will already be aware of your work ethic, the work you’ve produced, and your abilities in certain areas. There may be someone in your network that is already informally mentoring you, and they might be a great fit! If you are looking to someone outside of your network, find a connection! This will familiarize them with your body of work!
Prepare Yourself to Ask
Once you’ve settled on an individual to ask to be your mentor, you need to prepare your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 2-minute speech about your goals and why you think the person you’re pitching to is the right mentor for you. You should be upfront about the time commitment and what you’re willing to add to the relationship. When you are clear about your needs from the beginning, the communication will flow smoothly.
Questions to Ask Your Potential Mentor
Whether you are asking your potential mentor in person or pitching them in a formal email, you should ask some of the following questions to make sure this person is the right fit:
- Let them know what things you’ve taken from past conversations.
- Be clear about the timeline. How often are you meeting and for how long, and make sure this works for them as well.
- Make sure they are open to mentorship as an option and not an obligation. Everyone is busy, so make sure they are aware that they can say no!
Don’t feel guilty if you pitch someone on being your mentor, and it doesn’t work out. It’s important to remain respectful and professional. It might not have worked out this time, but there could be potential for you to work with that person in the future!