How Doing Your Homework Equals a Better Mentor


Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

According to Inc. Magazine, a mentor is “a person with more experience in business, or simply in life, who can help you hone your abilities and advise you on navigating new challenges. A mentor can be a boon in a broad range of scenarios, whether he or she provides pointers on business strategy, bolsters your networking efforts or acts as a confidante when your work-life balance gets out of whack.”

Sounds awesome right? However, finding and landing the right mentor can be challenging. A few tips on how to do just that.

Determining what you hope to achieve

When it comes to determining who will be a good mentor, it’s best to start with the end in mind. What are you looking to gain from this person? How can he or she help you reach your goals? Understanding what you hope to achieve through the relationship will help you narrow down the candidates to approach.

Meanwhile, you also have to ask yourself, what can I offer my mentor that will make it worthwhile for us to meet? Remember, mentoring is a two-way street. In order to entice someone to mentor you (especially someone you don’t know), it’s best to understand what you can bring to the relationship.

So start with the end in mind before approaching anyone about establishing a mentoring relationship. Pinpointing what’s important to you will save both you and your potential mentors’ time.

Looking for a mentor

Many companies are establishing formal mentoring programs because they have shown to improve employee retention. Check with your employer’s HR department to see if your company offers such a program and to learn the application requirements. Recognize that an employer program is usually designed to help you meet specific goals within an organization. Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve from your mentoring relationship, your company program may not be in-line with your goals, and you’ll need to look elsewhere.

In the event your company doesn’t have a program or it doesn’t fit your needs, you should next review your own network including executives within your company, connections via LinkedIn, alumni from your alma mater or other industry sources or group affiliations for potential mentors. Another great source for potential mentors is networking events, conferences or trade shows.

Preparation is vital to get the most of a mentor relationship.