In Search of a Mentor
Eight Tips For Success
Friday, January 15, 2016
by: Jacqueline Comeau, Director of Compliance, LOGS Network

Section: WILLed Q1 2016

Whether you are graduating school and entering or re-entering the workforce, getting a promotion, forging a specific career path, changing companies or starting an entirely new career, continuing to develop and expand your skill set will most likely be a requirement. In a perfect world, every company would have an established mentoring program to help you glide through these transitions with ease, but the reality is many companies do not. The lack of a formal, employer-sponsored mentor program does not mean you need give up the idea of being mentored; mentoring is relationship oriented and development focused, so there are a number of ways you can establish and benefit from an informal mentor relationship. You just need to have specific goals and clearly defined outcomes, be bold, take initiative and perhaps get a little creative. Once you are clear about what you want to achieve, consider one of the options below.
Ask friends and family: Take a closer look at your family and friends and their unique experiences and skill sets. You may find that you already have access to a familiar resource who can serve as a mentor. Perhaps a family member or friend can introduce you to someone in their extended circle of family/friends who can help.
Engage co-workers: Does a co-worker have a particular skill that you aspire to develop, or a long-term tenure with the company and might help you learn more about the company’s culture? If so, offer to take that person to breakfast or lunch in exchange for their time and mentoring. You might learn that your co-worker, besides being flattered by the request, may want to learn something from you as well! 

Volunteer: Identify volunteer opportunities that align with your objectives. Volunteering will allow you to contribute your time, and in return, benefit by establishing relationships and learning from other volunteers.
Join an industry-specific community group, trade group or professional organization: Many trade groups, professional associations and non-profit organizations have industry-specific mentoring programs. A growing trend is for associations to provide “virtual mentoring” programs that connect various members with one another. Also, some organizations use groups on LinkedIn to allow members to establish virtual mentoring relationships. Although not as personal, it may still be productive depending upon the goal.
Attend an industry event: Attending seminars, conferences and certification programs will allow you to meet potential mentors who share common interests.
School sponsored programs: Many colleges have established mentoring programs wherein alumni volunteer to mentor students. If you’ve already graduated, call and ask if they would consider matching you with another alumnus.
Identify community business owners and successful professionals: Identify someone in the business world you admire and invite that person to breakfast or lunch.
SCORE at the Small Business Administration (SBA): If you are an entrepreneur, the SBA has a non-profit group, SCORE, that is comprised of experienced and successful business men and women who volunteer to serve as mentors (
The options listed above are only a few of the many ways you can search for and find someone to mentor you. Don’t feel restricted or confined about how to find a mentor – you can and may need to be creative to find a good fit. You will also need to remember that mentor/mentee relationships work because they are built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect which is established over time. To accelerate that relationship, make an effort learn a little about your potential mentor in advance and try to find a common interest other than business to build upon.
No matter which option(s) you pursue, remember that when someone agrees to mentor you they are doing you a favor and investing time in your potential success. Show your appreciation by arriving on time and sticking to the allotted timeframe, unless your mentor tells you they have extra time. If you ask for advice, listen, apply what you learn and share the outcomes with your mentor. Otherwise, your mentor may not see the value in committing their time to you.
Finally, don’t make the relationship all about you. To facilitate your mentoring relationship, meet your mentor close to their office or home and on a day and time that works best with their schedule. Demonstrate a genuine interest in your mentor as an individual. Call or send an email on occasion just to check in and see how they are doing. Your mentoring agreement may evolve into a co-mentoring relationship, a professional relationship, or if you’re lucky, maybe even a friendship!
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