How To Find A Great Career Mentor

Why go it alone when you can draw from a veteran's past experiences?

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By Ceren Cubukcu

Having a great mentor is very important if you want to advance in your career. It doesn't matter if you work for a large corporation, a small business or if you are an entrepreneur, everybody has to have at least one mentor that they can get help for their business challenges. However, finding a good mentor is not an easy task. You have to put the time and effort to find the right one whom you will feel confident with.

Before you start looking for a mentor, first you have to understand the role of a mentor. A good mentor is someone who has been through similar professional experiences in the past that you have been going through and who can lead you to the right direction using his/her experience. Also, a good mentor is not supposed to do things for you. Conversely, s/he is supposed to ask you the right questions so you can understand the current situation and make your decisions yourself.

Let's look at the steps that will help you finding a great mentor:

1. Check if you have a mentoring program at work. Many of the large businesses and some mid-sized ones have formal mentoring programs for their employees. If you work for one of these businesses which have a formal mentoring program, you can ask your HR department to assign a mentor for you. You can also look around at work and identify a mentor for yourself. If you already have a specific person in mind, ask him/her in a proper way to be your mentor.

2. Look outside your workplace. Your mentor doesn't need to work in the same company with you. You can also find mentors from your relatives, friends and neighbors. Another alternative is finding a mentor from activities that you are involved in such as professional organizations or community groups. If you are still a student or a new graduate, you can ask your professor to be your mentor as well.

3. Try LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a good way to identify the leaders in your field. Especially if you are planning to switch companies or change your career, you can use LinkedIn to find influential people who can help you. After identifying a few people that you want as mentors, find ways to meet them in person so you can establish a formal relationship. Find out if they are attending any industry events so you can meet them yourself or ask around to see if you have any common connections that can introduce you with your desired mentor.

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