Time and time we will mention how important mentorship is if you aspire to attain something. Mentorship helps by giving you an experienced hand that sees more than is apparent. This helps you to identify issues along your success journey and also prepare for unforeseeable, to the inexperienced eye, pitfalls. This of course happens if you have the right mentor. Yes, it is possible to be connected to the wrong mentor. So how do you identify the right mentor?
What are your goals?
By now you should be used to this. Any search for something outside yourself really starts within yourself. It is very difficult to find the right mentor if you do not have a measure for what constitutes the right mentor. What are the goals in your life, career or business that you intend to achieve through this mentorship? In other words, we need to start with why you are looking for a mentor.
For almost every pursuit, some people have done it before. And in those rare cases where there are not there is surely a story or experience that relates to it. We need to research the goals we intend to achieve and how it has been done before or people who have an idea of how it can be done. This research is not just about finding hero stories but rather the steps that people went through and the actions they took to achieve the goals. Once we know what it takes, we can define the mentor.
Define the mentor
After understanding why we want a mentor the next thing we need to do is to define the mentor. We need to come up with description criteria that will enable us to identify the mentor when we see the mentor. You can look at this in terms of both characteristics and track record. We are not identifying a person yet but rather the characteristics and qualities we expect our desired mentor to have. This way when we are looking at people we have a criteria list to measure them against.
Check your network
The first place you should look is within your network. We know why we want the mentor and have defined what makes a good mentor. The next step is finding good candidates and the best place to look is within your existing network as this will be easier to access. This doesn’t mean start and end there. Mentorship is a complicated journey. Checking your existing network will also give you a good idea of how close you are to knowing someone like the mentor you desire based on your current behaviour. If you can find a suitable mentor within your network that shows that your actions are likely on the right path for your ultimate goal. If you cannot, you will need to think about what you have been doing.
Look outside your network
You’ve looked within your network and you have hopefully found suitable candidates. Those within your network will be easier to approach but easier doesn’t necessarily mean better. So it is wise to also look outside of your network for suitable mentors. Obviously, you would want someone you can still reach but the best approach to use here is a shoot for the stars approach. You would be surprised who can respond favourably so don’t rule anyone out.
Finally, the approach to the prospective mentor will be important. While many wells to do people will be familiar with mentoring arrangements do not automatically assume that they have done this before or know what it entails. So you will need to make a formal approach informing them of your goals, your reasons for picking them and how you imagine it would work. This is very important as it will give them a clear idea of what you expect of them and the opportunity to decline without wasting time if they feel they are not up to it.
Every step of the process is important. It would be unfortunate for you to find a prospective mentor and when asked why you chose them you have no answer. Most self-respecting people would cut you off there and then. Same thing if you cannot articulate your personal goals as well as goals for the mentorship.