The benefits of having mentors during the course of your career are pretty much endless. They provide you with knowledge, show you areas you can improve, and help you make connections.
But you already know that a mentor is a must-have to grow yourself professionally.
Since you’ve already decided to find one, we’re here to provide you with the framework to land the mentor of your dreams. With this foolproof guide, you’re sure to find a mentor that’s the right fit for you.
And you’ll find out the best way to get them to work with you!
1. Identify Your Perfect Mentor
First and foremost, don’t go into your search thinking anyone is out of your league.
You need a winning attitude from the very start. Don’t assume people aren’t interested in mentoring you. You never know how anyone really feels. You may be surprised by what you find.
How Do I Identify My Perfect Mentor?
Start coming up with a few people that fit the idea of what you want in a mentor. Think of people who you admire and whose values align with your own.
Make sure you do your research!
Read, watch, and listen to as much of your prospective mentor’s work as possible. See what you can learn about what they have to offer before approaching them.
It’s a good idea to have at least three people in mind you’d like to pursue for your mentorship. Make a list of anyone you think would make a great mentor for you, no matter how long or short it is.
2. Know What You Have to Offer
The last thing you want to do is show up to the table empty-handed. That’s a surefire way to end a mentorship before it even begins.
This is where your research will start coming in handy.
How Do I Know What I Have to Offer?
Take a look at what the person you hope to be your mentor is doing. What is their social media presence like? What events are they putting on?
And most importantly: What can you do to help them?
Think of it this way — if someone has the skills and work ethic to make you want them as a mentor, they’re probably a busy person. You shouldn’t ask for their valuable time and help without adding to the relationship.
So, think about what skills you have and how you can put them to use.
3. Approach Them With Confidence
Now it’s time to lay down your proposition. Do so as if you know for sure they’re going to say yes.
It won’t do you any good to be timid.
How Should I Approach My Prospective Mentor?
If at all possible, approach them in person. It’s best to have this conversation face-to-face. A phone call or video should be your second choice.
At least then you can use your voice. Email is the last resort.
Don’t be afraid to show them how much you admire them.
Bring up examples of their work that inspired you and made you want to pursue them as your mentor. Show them that you did your research and you are confident that they’re the right mentor for you.
They’ll appreciate how serious you are about working with them!
4. Take Plenty of Initiative
Don’t expect your mentor to do absolutely everything for you. They’re not here to take you by the hand and lead you.
You’re a competent adult. You should already have a good idea of how this person can help you and what you want out of the relationship.
How Do I Take the Initiative?
Always have a plan for meetings with your mentor.
Know ahead of time what questions you want to ask or what you need to talk about. Better yet, set up the meetings yourself. Do your due diligence and find out when your mentor is most likely to be free.
Bring a time and place to them instead of asking what they want to do.
In the end, this relationship is here to help you advance your career. They are where you want to be, which is why you picked them.
Chances are, they got where they are because they work hard. Don’t waste their time or yours by being unprepared.
5. Follow Up on Their Advice
Whatever advice your mentor gives you, jump on it as quickly as you can. Implementing their solutions shows you’re getting the most out of your mentorship.
Once you’ve put their advice into action, always follow up with them.
How Should I Follow Up?
Let them know exactly what you did and how it turned out. Was the outcome what you expected or did it go another way? Did it end up going well or not so well?
Here’s the deal: communication is key to a successful mentorship.
Bonus Tip: What to Do If Your First Choice Says No
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. It’s nothing you did wrong. The stars just didn’t align on this one and that’s okay.
It’s still possible to get something out of being told no if you know where to go from there.
What’s My Next Step After Hearing “No”?
If you’re dead set on having this person as your mentor, you have questions to ask. First, ask them if they’re open to revisiting the idea of a mentorship later down the line when they have more time.
If you’re okay with moving on, ask them for a recommendation. They may know someone else who suits you and is willing to take on the role of mentor.
By keeping the lines of communication open you show them that you’re serious
about furthering yourself and your career. In some cases, you may just change their mind with your tenacity.
Landing the mentor of your dreams is a combination of attitude and finding the right fit. More often than not, people are happy to mentor others because they had a great mentor themselves.
And maybe one day you will find that you’re someone else’s dream mentor.
Following these steps is a proven way to make the best impression on someone you admire.
Once you find your mentor, they’ll want to help you become an even better version of you.
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management and works closely with to help them with their marketing efforts. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry.