woman and man in business meeting
From examining your professional circle to committing to the mentorship, there are several steps to take when searching for that right person to offer you professional guidance. — Getty Images/SDI Productions

A person’s success is not singular. When it comes to career development, working with a mentor is one of the best ways to achieve new heights and widen your personal and professional network.

A great mentor is someone who’s qualities make up the version of yourself you’d like to be. Also, since your mentor will likely open you up to their extended network, look for someone who is open to others, authentic in their personality, creative in their work and caring.

However, finding the right person to guide you on your professional and personal journey is a daunting task and most people don't know where to start. If you’re having a hard time finding a mentor, here are the steps you should take.

[Read: The 6 Stages of Career Development]

Steps to finding a mentor

In many cases, finding the right mentor is the most difficult part of a mentorship because they often grow from informal interactions. These steps will help you find a mentor who is a perfect fit for you and develop a strong bond with them.

Consider your career goals

The best way to determine who can help guide you is to think about your short-term and long-term goals. Where do you want to be in three months? What about five years? How can you get there? The more specific you are, the easier it’ll be to find someone whose already accomplished a similar path that you’re looking to follow.

Examine your professional circle

Who do you know in your professional circle that you strive to be like? This doesn’t have to be someone who works at the same company as you or someone who has the role above yours. A mentor can be anyone who inspires you and whose work ethic and success you seek to mimic in your own way. When you’re examining your professional circle, think as broadly as possible. Inspiration can come from anyone with strong values.

[Read: How to Network ... the Right Way]

Just because someone is where you strive to be, doesn’t mean they’re the one to help you flourish.

Find the right mentor

You may find someone who has the same job or career path as you but doesn’t share your values, has different work priorities or plainly isn’t willing to help others. Just because someone is where you strive to be, doesn’t mean they’re the one to help you flourish. Observe and study the behavior of your potential mentor. Ask yourself why you want to be like them and what you think they can help you achieve. If you can’t think of an answer beyond, “They have the job I’d like to have,” then it’s time to find another person.

Make the ask

Once you know it’s the right fit, go out and talk to your potential mentor. You don’t need to be so formal as to ask, “Will you be my mentor?” Rather, ask them for coffee and to pick their brain. From there you can share your goals and talk about how you can observe your mentor and help them with their work.

Commit to the mentorship

As a mentee, you have to commit to building the relationship with your mentor. Don’t bombard your mentor with messages and questions only when you need something. Remember, relationships are two-way streets. Be sure to always share your appreciation with your mentor, show them that you’re using their advice and be open to helping them out too. Mentors aren’t perfect and they have much to learn from you as well.

[Read: 7 Important Soft Skills to Grow Your Career]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published July 20, 2020