Taking the Next Steps on the Mentor Journey

Fantastic Mentors (and Where to Find Them)


“If only I had known then what I know now.”  Chances are you have heard someone say those words during the course of your career. Perhaps you have uttered those words yourself.

steps to finding a mentor imageOver the years, I have heard clients say they wish they had a mentor early in their career, or at an important and challenging inflection point.  The learning curve would not have been so steep, or the mistakes quite so painful.
Earlier this month, I talked about the initial steps in seeking a great mentor, including:
  • Setting goals for the mentor relationship,
  • Building a mentor success criteria, and
  • Honing in on one game-changing area of focus
Let’s start with three simple questions and dig into each.


1. Can you get access?

Let’s say that you hope to become the next great filmmaker, and you live in Colorado. Chances are that you don’t have personal access to Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan. Granted, you may know someone who knows someone . . . If that is the case, you could carefully work your way up to an introduction.

For most of us, though, the more direct and realistic route is to find out who’s who in Colorado filmmaking and attend the festivals where those leaders show and view the latest films. The fact that they are local gives you some opportunity to meet in person.


2. Does this person have availability?

Let’s say that you have identified someone who is an expert in your field, they appear to meet the rest of your criteria, and you know what you would want from a mentoring relationship.

If their work has them traveling internationally, then availability could be an issue. Do they serve on four different boards in the business or non-profit community? Start with some basic research in the local press and by viewing their LinkedIn profile for some clues.


3. Do you have a relationship now?

Back to my earlier comment — it is awkward to ask a perfect stranger to be your mentor. A place to begin sizing up a mentor before you approach them is to take inventory of your current relationships at work, school, professional associations, and in the community.


Where did you find a mentor who changed your life?

Share Your Mentor Story. Email us with the subject Line: Subject line: Where I found my mentor.


Next steps on the journey: Ask yourself, whom do you admire in your field? Who seems approachable, knowledgeable, and influential? Who do you know?  If you have the beginnings of a relationship with someone who appears to fit the criteria, think about how you would hold that conversation.
Next week, I will talk about how to hold the conversation with a potential mentor, including what to say and what not to say.