National Mentoring Month: What to Look for in a Mentor

Everyone needs a mentor. We are born imitators; if we don’t purposely find a good leader to imitate, we unconsciously follow those around us. A great mentor not only provides an example to follow, but offers personalized advice and insight you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

If you haven’t already found your match, January is National Mentoring Month – the perfect time to start! Ready to jump in? Here’s your guide to building a great mentoring relationship:

Map your goals
You won’t be able to find the right mentor if you don’t know your needs. Determine your goals, values and desires, then find a mentor who can help you get there.

Find a teacher
While it’s important to find a mentor who’s achieved what you’d like to attain, don’t just focus on accomplishments. It’s just as important to find a mentor who’s eager to share his or her knowledge, skills and expertise with you, and can do it in a relatable, engaging way.

Don’t force it
It’s important to not only find someone you admire, but someone you enjoy. Don’t force a relationship; let it happen naturally. Get involved in networking groups, be teachable and engage with leaders you admire. Put yourself in the right position and you’ll eventually strike gold with a mentor who naturally takes an interest in you.

Choose good character
Great mentors vary in their habits, skills and experience, but there are a few traits they all share: optimism, integrity, genuine interest in others and humility. Find a mentor with these characteristics and you’ll have invaluable advisor.

Take it straight
Don’t shy away from tough conversations with your mentor. Request candid feedback and accept it when it comes. Honest critique is one of the single most valuable things a trusted mentor can offer. Take it to heart – you’ll be the better for it.

Say thanks
Let your mentors know how much you appreciate their advice and personal interest in you and your career.

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