Finding an ideal mentor is a smart next step toward achieving the goals you’ve set this year. As Oprah once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Experiencing that hope will help you push forward to reach your goals — even when your circumstances and obstacles are challenging.
Studies from Wharton show that mentoring is the key to more opportunities, better promotions and increased pay raises. Excellent reasons to pursue mentors of your own! Taking the time to find the right mentor for you can make a huge difference in your future success. Read on to learn how to find a mentor this year and jumpstart your professional dreams.
Define what character traits you admire.
When you’re looking for a mentor, it’s easy to become laser-focused on finding someone whose career path you’d like to follow. But there’s far more to mentoring than career trajectory. Since you’ll be spending time with your mentor, it’s helpful to find someone that you actually like — and whose character you admire.
What have you seen of their character? What values do they prioritize? Look beyond a mentor’s external success to determine if they are a good fit for the support you’re looking for in your career. Once you’ve built this character lens, you’re equipped to identify ideal mentors when you meet them.
Surround yourself with like-minded people.
Finding a mentor who thinks as you do starts with community. It’s important to remember to look beyond your own workplace. People in similar or different industries at a variety of organizations can offer a new perspective and time-tested advice. Plus, someone outside your company brings invaluable objectivity.
Make it a point to surround yourself with like-minded people. At Central Exchange, we’re passionate about bringing ambitious women together. That’s why we host events like our annual Midwest Leadership Summit to strengthen and empower our community of women. Attend this year’s Midwest Leadership Summit and you might even find your mentor there! Get your tickets for the Midwest Leadership Summit today.
Review your network.
You know the saying — we often find what we’re looking for in the last place we look! So shift your gaze inward. While casting a wide net can help you pinpoint your mentor, the opposite is also true: your mentor could very well be someone you already know! In fact, this makes it easier to begin a mentorship.
Anjuli Sastry, co-founder of NPR’s Women of Color mentorship program, says, “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?”
Peek into your LinkedIn network, your alumni association network, your corporate network, a local nonprofit community, cultural organizations . . . the list goes on! Who do you know who can offer wisdom and advice? Which connections may be able to introduce you to a potential mentor? Review your network and see what opportunities you discover.
Play the long game — and don’t wait for fate.
If you’re a natural enthusiast, you may be tempted to dive in the second you meet even a possible mentor. And if you fall on the other side of the spectrum, you might be reluctant to engage unless it’s a 100% perfect fit. Either way, play the long game.
Trust that the right relationships require investment and commitment. If it’s not right, trust your gut . . . and if you’re uncertain, give the relationship some grace and give it a try. As diversity consultant Joe Watson told The New York Times, “Too many workers are waiting for the equivalent of the ‘Career Fairy’ to come down . . . These types of relationships take chemistry, synergy and trust, none of which happen overnight.”
Cast a wide net.
Looking for one mentor to fulfill everything you hope for? You’re setting both yourself and your potential mentor up for failure. Consider the variety of people who, when combined, could serve as your own “Board of Mentors.”
Who can help you grow in your particular industry? Who can coach you as a community leader? Who can help you cultivate your network? Who can advise you in your volunteerism efforts? Who can encourage you to grow as a parent, a spouse or a friend? This combination of several mentors can help you thrive.
Finding a mentor is just one part of reaching your full potential. At Central Exchange, you’ll find a community of women working toward success and working together. You are welcome here! Be our guest at one of our many upcoming programs.