Ten Tips For Finding A Mentor

Krishna De wrote in the Sunday Times article 7. of september (http://www.krishnade.com/blog/2008/howtofindamentor/), that one of the suggestions she made to enhance your presentation skills is to work with a mentor.

But what can you do if there is no formal mentoring programme in your company?
Where might you start in finding a mentor to support your career progress?

Here are 10 tips to help you find and get the most out of working with a mentor:

1. Consider why you are looking for a mentor – Is it about helping you progress your career? Do you want to expand your knowledge into a different sector? This will help you focus on finding a relevant mentor.

2. Explore what you are looking for in a mentor – Are you looking for someone to be a great sounding board? Do you want someone that is willing to share their personal experience and expertise? This will help you be clear in your communication as you approach a potential mentor.

3. Review how important it is to have a mentor close to hand – The experience and personality of your mentor is going to be a factor when approaching someone. But how important is it for you to find someone to work with face to face – or would you enjoy working with someone by phone, by Skype or even by video conferencing making use of the new social media platforms such as Oovoo.com?

4. Take stock of what you will bring to the mentoring relationship – Are you committed to taking action? What specific experience have you had that might be of interest to a mentor? In successful mentoring relationships, both the mentor and the mentee find value in the relationship, so get clear about your unique experience that will enrich the relationship between you and your potential mentor.

5. Review your immediate network – Who is it that you already know that you trust and value? Is there someone in your workplace you could approach? Perhaps your mentor could be someone you have met in a professional network you are a member of? Or could your mentor be someone you have worked with in the past? Take the time to consider all the people you already know as a potential mentor as that will make it easier for you to approach them.

6. Focus your approach – Before approaching a potential mentor, do your research. Who do you know that has worked with the potential mentor? What’s their view on how open, challenging yet supportive this person may be? Ask for advice on how to best approach the potential mentor.

7. Prepare for the meeting – Once you have identified one or two people you would like to consider to be your mentor, approach them one at a time and request an exploratory meeting either by phone or face to face. If the potential mentor does not know you, is there someone who can make the introduction for you? Make sure you have your updated CV available to provide background detail on your career to-date.

8. Outline an agenda – Keep your request for an initial meeting to be around 30 minutes – this meeting is to connect you with a potential mentor and not a first mentoring meeting. Your goal is to outline why you are looking for a mentor and to explore if they might consider being your mentor. Don’t put your potential mentor under pressure to make a decision immediately – they may need to reflect on your request given their other commitments. Also look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Dp9YdNZVGA&feature=related for how to break the ice.

9. Follow up after the meeting – After the meeting take time to follow up with the potential mentor, perhaps by sending them a handwritten note thanking them for their time meeting you. If the person you approached is not able to be a mentor for you, you could engage their support in finding a mentor.

10. Take action – If you have found a mentor to work with, then plan your first meeting and schedule it in the calendar. You can then prepare a draft agenda covering the subject areas that you would like to cover in your first meeting such as confidentiality, the way you plan you connect, how frequently you want to meet and the scope of what you would like to discuss. Seek your mentor’s input to the draft agenda – preparing for the meeting will ensure that your mentor sees that you committed to the relationship with them and will help get you off to a flying start.

Apply these ten tips and you’ll be sure to find a mentor to support you in expanding your professional success.

This article was initially published as part of a feature in Marketing Age titled ‘Get Thee A Guru’ which you can access HERE : http://www.krishnade.com/media/20080630-Marketing-Age-Get-Thee-a-Guru.pdf