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How to Find a Mentor

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If you are searching for a way to learn the ropes and advance in your career, a mentor can provide you with a valuable road map for getting you there. When your workplace doesn't offer a mentoring program, however, finding the right mentor is sometimes a challenge. Plenty of mentors are out there. You just need to know where to look.

Thinking Outside the Cubicle

Although it may seem like the most logical approach to finding a mentor is to ask your boss or a higher-up at work, this isn't always the best idea. You need the ability to discuss both problems and career strategies with your mentor, so looking outside your office or even outside the industry you work in might make for a better choice. Fast Company states that mentoring goes far beyond just getting advice: A good mentor is willing to commit valuable time and focused attention to ensure that you are progressing toward your goals. Regardless of who you choose, you'll need to speak with that person both honestly and openly.

That Old Alma Matter

Social media website LinkedIn, which caters to networking professionals, is one way to connect with people from your alma mater. Lindsey Pollak, a LinkedIn Ambassador, suggests becoming a member of your university's LinkedIn group as a way to connect, then join in on discussions, and comment on articles or posts. Introduce yourself to the group manager, who may be a helpful resource for connecting you to alumni who might be able to mentor you. Once you are settled into the group, you may then let others in the group know that you're looking to find a mentor.

Make It a Family Affair

Martin Lehman, a veteran of the women's apparel industry and long-time counselor at the Service Corps of Retired Executives Association, recommends that relatives or friends can make good mentors because these are people you already trust. If you think a family member or friend might be provide too much unsolicited advice, don't count them out for help. They might be willing to introduce you to someone who would be a good mentor. A positive word about you from your friend or relative could help open the door to a potential mentor.

Keeping the Relationship Going

Once you have found your mentor, the next step is to cultivate the relationship with that person. Take charge of the relationship and tell your mentor upfront what it is that you need from him and exactly what your goals are. Because you are asking for your mentor's valuable time, stay flexible if your mentor needs to change a meeting time or postpone due to schedule conflicts. Recognizing how your mentor prefers to communicate can go a long way toward making your relationship successful. For example, establish whether your mentor wants you to provide lots of details when you meet or prefers a broad overview of the specific problems you are having. You can then adjust the way you communicate to the format he prefers.