How to Find a Personal Mentor [EdSurge Tips]

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How to Find a Personal Mentor [EdSurge Tips]

By EdSurge Jobs     Feb 13, 2018

How to Find a Personal Mentor [EdSurge Tips]

On this Valentine’s week, we want to celebrate a different kind of connection: mentorship. Similar to courtship, seeking out a mentor can be nerve-wracking, confusing and sometimes disappointing, but when you find the right one, it is all worth it!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are a few tips for navigating the mentorship landscape to find that special someone:

1) Don’t be creepy.

Cut to before the days of mainstream dating apps, when people thought meeting up with strangers from the internet was for serial killers and catfishing. Your mentor will probably be someone you’ve already interacted with. This could be a family friend, former colleague, or friend of a friend who inspires you or is farther along on the same career path. Ideally, you’ve already demonstrated your value and potential to this person.

2) Play it cool, but not too cool.

Build your relationship with your potential mentor slowly. Ask them if you can take them out for a cup of coffee to pick their brain. Come prepared, but also let the conversation naturally flow so it doesn’t feel like an interview. Prepare responses if they ask you “what you’ve been up to [career-wise]”. Use this as a segue to discuss your career goals. If the meeting is during the week, make sure not to take up too much of their time. Don’t be nervous though, most mentors understand that leveling-up in your career can be a tricky process, and once you can get them to open up about their career follies and triumphs, you may soon have a mentor and a friend all rolled into one.

After your first meeting, make sure to send an email thanking them for their time, and include any other relevant follow-ups. From here, you want to stay in their sphere, interacting around interesting posts or discussions on social media and sharing useful resources. After a couple months, or when the time feels right, reach out to ask about meeting up in person again.

Insider tip: Just like in the realm of dating, sometimes it isn’t going to work out. Recognize when the ball is in their court and no action is necessary from you. There’s a difference between persistence and being a pest. Don’t be a pest!

3) Relationships are a two-way street! Don't expect to just take, take, take.

It’s easy to focus on what you need or want from a mentor relationship, but it’s important to consider what you can provide them as well. Before meeting with your (potential) mentor, do your homework and think of some interesting questions to ask them. This can be as simple as “What aspect of your job are you really enjoying lately?” or “I saw you went on a trip to Japan! How was it?” You want to be an enjoyable person to meet with so it doesn’t feel like a favor on their end.

Part of being a mentee is showing that you are someone who’s going places. Even if the only value you can provide now is a social media share or a pleasant conversation, you might be able to offer them a job or a valuable opportunity down the road. You can demonstrate your future value by excelling at your job, providing interesting insights, showing leadership at work or in your community, or simply being a sounding board for them when they’re making an important decision.

Lastly, share the love! Consider mentoring someone looking to grow in your field. Even if you only have limited experience, you'll be helping out a potential colleague (good karma!) and there's no better way to learn than to teach.

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