How to Choose a Mentor

Having a mentor can make it easier to succeed in work or in life. Knowing how to choose a mentor can help you make the most of that valuable relationship. Here are some important qualities to look for in an advisor, and a step-by-step guide to finding the right one for you.

Qualities to Look for In a Mentor:

1. Focus on integrity. Look for someone whom you consider to be a good role model. You want an advisor who shares your core values. They don’t have to be rich and famous. Anyone you respect and admire may be a good mentor for you.

2. Seek a mentor with relevant experience. Career growth may be the first thing that comes to mind, but mentors can help in any area including family issues or investment guidance. Look for someone with the appropriate background, expertise, and contacts.

3. Find someone with complementary strengths. Look for someone who can assist you in areas where you feel that you need further development. For example, if you’re concerned about your presentation skills, you may want to investigate people who are popular speakers in your industry.

4. Look for a good counselor. A mentor is a facilitator and a sounding board. Ideally, they’ll help you develop your own wisdom and create your own solutions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding The Right Mentor For You:

1. Start with people you know. The right advisor might be under your nose right now. If you have colleagues and acquaintances that you admire and want to emulate, they may be ideal candidates.

2. Research additional prospects. To find someone with the right experience and skills, you may need to go beyond your current network. Online tools such as LinkedIn or local chapters of trade associations can be great resources for finding accomplished individuals in any industry.

3. Ask for help. If you feel shy about asking someone to mentor you, remember that your prospective advisor may feel flattered that you appreciate his or her wisdom and skills. If you are approaching a mentor you don’t already know personally, you can send a letter of introduction summarizing your request and asking for a brief meeting to talk it over.

4. Get references. If you decide to work with a paid mentor, check their references first to evaluate their services. Ask other clients if they are satisfied with the return on their investment.

5. Discuss your objectives. Start out by talking about your goals with your mentor. If you decide to work together, you’ll want to develop measurable objectives along with an evaluation plan and timetable so you can track your progress. An initial conversation can clarify if your mentor is really in a position to provide the kind of assistance you need.

6. Communicate regularly. Ensure you and your advisor both understand your mutual expectations about the amount of time you plan to invest in this relationship. If it matters to you, specify your need for in-person meetings in addition to any teleconferences. Find out if you’ll be working with your chosen coach directly or an associate.

7. Thank your mentor. Even if your mentor works with you on a paid basis, remember to express your gratitude for their generosity. Tell them that you appreciate them. Thank everyone who helps you in your search for an advisor. This may be a process you’ll repeat throughout your life, so cherish these relationships.

Working with an advisor gives you the opportunity to learn from their experience and expertise. Choose your mentors wisely, and you’ll be one step closer to the career and life of our design.