When searching for the right mentor, ensure you know your goals. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. Envisioning your dreams this way allows you to break down lofty ideas into individual goals that are easier to accomplish through short-term steps and when you finally find the right mentor, you are clear with your direction.
Another point to note is that there is a difference between a mentor and a sponsor. Mentors give advice but can’t give you a new job, raise, or promotion. Sponsors, on the other hand, can do that for you. They can be a recruiter or an employer. Don’t expect mentors to be sponsors, however, in some cases, mentors could connect you to sponsors. But your relationship with a mentor should not be solely centered on getting a sponsor at the end of the day.
Here are tips that will help you find a mentor:
Look around you
Think of everyone you’ve come across, your peers, professional groups, associations you’re involved in, etc. The more aware someone already is of your work and abilities, the more effective they will be at mentoring you. Think about whether someone is already informally mentoring you — can you ask them to help you? If someone isn’t aware of your work or you’ve never talked to them, look for a connection. Make sure the person you are thinking about also has the expertise you’re looking for.
Look through your online network
The online space is a good place to meet potential mentors. You might already have a network, no matter how tiny, on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Look for people in your field or those with similar interests who regularly share their experiences, engage in discussions, and spend time helping others. Check out the contents they share. If they share actionable, helpful advice online, chances are they’ll be willing to do so in person too.
Look at being proactive
When looking for a mentor, you need to be a doer, not a passive onlooker. The more initiatives or projects you take up, the more a potential mentor is likely to notice you. Start side projects, volunteer your time, or use your talents to help people in your community in the little way you can. The more you do so, the more you draw like-minds to you and your mentor could just be around the corner.
Look for and attend industry events
This is definitely a great way to meet new people in your field. Go out more. Attend training programs, seminars, conferences, meetup events, etc. Due to COVID-19, there is now an increase in online events like webinars. Attend, learn and connect with people that can support you.
When you finally become a mentee, build a healthy relationship with your mentor. meet consistently and figure out how often. Before each meeting, send your mentor an agenda, a new project you’ve worked on and want feedback on, etc. Be open to tough feedback and learning from them. Remember to make and keep boundaries as well.