“Mentor” has been a buzzword for a at least a decade now, and yet the importance of having one is often overlooked. A mentor is someone who can help you get through any new and challenging stage in your life — school, work, your own business, and much more. So how do you find one?
1. Start with your network
Usually you don’t need to look far to find someone inspiring. Most schools have a mentor program where younger students get matched with older ones. Take advantage of this if you are in school — you might walk out with a great and knowledgeable friend! If not at school, just think of the people you know. Perhaps there is someone in your circle who is successful at something similar to what you’re doing, or a co-worker you are inspired by. Think of your family friends who are likely already established in their fields.
2. Use social media
We don’t need to tell you how powerful social media can be. Moreover, successful people utilize social media to share their message and find like-minded people. So go ahead and find them! First, be clear on what you want to be mentored on (how to break into a competitive field of journalism for example), and then research top performers in your industry. LinkedIn is a great platform for that, but so is Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — this just depends on the industry you’re thinking of (for instance, photographers are mostly on Instagram, business coaches are on Facebook, and news broadcasters are on Twitter). Make sure you also pick someone who is accessible and is willing to share their knowledge. Gary Vaynerchuk might be the top business strategist out there, but coaching with him will cost you thousands of dollars. Getting advice from celebrities like him makes more sense when you’re slightly older and deeper in your field. At that point you are able to get a lot more value from a relationship like that and can also afford it.
3. When you’ve found “The One”
When you think you’ve found someone you can really look up to, don’t attack them with questions right away. Follow them and their work online for a few weeks to a month to really get the feel of their communication style. There are many excellent mentors whose vibe just won’t match to yours. This is why you should critically assess them based on these categories:
4. Give more than you ask
No matter who you’ve chosen to be your mentor, you need to make it worthwhile for them too. Especially if this person is active on social media, support them there by liking and sharing the posts that you find useful. By engaging in meaningful conversations with them online, you are increasing their visibility for other people, and that is the ultimate goal. To learn more about using social media for your career, read this article.
5. Set clear goals
Once you are ready to begin with your mentor, you need to come up with very clear goals and expectations. In fact, set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals for yourself and clearly communicate them with your mentor. Make sure you are on the same page in terms of the desirable flow and outcome. Put it on paper to avoid disappointments. If you’re paying your mentor, make sure to have a contract!
Finding a mentor isn’t easy, but it is a very rewarding task. Remember — you need to put in the work. A mentor will not walk around looking for you, you need to find him/her! Also, don’t just approach strangers — get to know them first, and make sure you’re on their radar too. This will help you both identify a good fit. We hope that these tips will help you find a great mentor!