How to Find and Choose a Mentor

Many professionals understand the value to their career in having a mentor. Each of us needs someone to cheer us on, give us a different perspective on an issue, or simply share career knowledge and experiences. In the absence of corporate mentorship programs, most do not understand the process of securing a mentor, or even think that they can spearhead the process of finding a mentor.
In fact, in a study of nearly 1,000 female professionals in the US conducted by social networking firm, LinkedIn, 19 percent have never had a mentor. And more than half (52 percent) of the women who have never had a mentor reported that they “never encountered someone appropriate.” The results of the LinkedIn survey underpins the importance of being proactive and going out to find your own mentor.
To find a mentor requires that you first clearly understand your mentoring needs before you look to fill them. Take the time to define why you need a mentor, then make a list of those who can potentially fill your mentoring needs. To make a list of your prospective mentors think of leaders and influencers in your industry. How about speakers and members of your industry association? LinkedIn is another option – search for professionals in your zip code who can potentially fill your mentoring needs.
Learn as much as you can about the people on your list of potential mentors. Which ones have values that closely align with yours? Get to know them by developing an online relationship with them. Use the information you have discovered about them as an “in” to meet them. After you have gotten to know them, ask the top person on the list to become your mentor. Explain why you chose him/her and the time commitment involved. If for some reason the person says no, do not be discouraged and simply move on to the second choice.
Mentors are everywhere, but you have to be strategic to find and choose a mentor that is just perfect for you.
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