HomeThe InfluencersDon’t go it alone: Proven strategies for finding a mentor

Don’t go it alone: Proven strategies for finding a mentor

Being mentored is a fantastic experience, wrote Beverly Landais in The Seven pillars of a thriving mentoring relationship (March 2024) in The Professionals. But how do you find the right mentor? Here Beverly Landais some proven strategies. 

Behind every stunningly successful person, there is usually someone who has had a significant and positive impact on their lives. There are many inspirational examples.

Former Apple CEO, the late Steve Jobs, served as a mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Sir James Dyson cites his first boss, James Fry, as his mentor. Virgin Group Founder, Richard Branson, was mentored by Sir Freddie Laker. Branson is quoted as saying: ‘If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always (say they) have had a great mentor at some point along the road.’  Entertainment star and successful businesswoman Oprah Winfrey was mentored by celebrated author and poet the late Maya Angelou. Winfrey says, ‘A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.’

The idea of finding a mentor isn’t new. It is a compelling concept – especially during times of transition at the different stages of our lives. It is easy to give up on finding a mentor because you can’t find the perfect match. You can improve your chances of success by considering people who might be a good match with you and whose values and principles you admire. Here are some ideas on how to find the right mentor.

Join a mentoring scheme. There are plenty of mentoring projects run by business organisations, professional trade bodies and other specialist communities. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides a mentoring scheme, don’t wait to be asked to join. Show initiative and be resourceful in putting together a business case for being mentored. Begin by conducting a personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), then set out your career aspirations. What kind of mentor can help you get there? Be specific about the support you require and demonstrate that you are prepared to work at it. Think about whether you would prefer an informal one-off arrangement or more formal and frequent series of meetings to tackle a specific topic.

Find a mentor through your network. Start by considering who you already know and how they might help you.  At the same time, think about what you might have to offer them in return. These people might be friends, work colleagues, business contacts, social connections, or fellow alums from your school, university or previous job. The chances are that you will find they hold a range of different skills that will help you reach your goals. You might also find that they can make introductions to others with further skills that might help you.  Be mindful of the time you ask people to give you and remember to offer something back. The process of giving and taking will boost your self-esteem and cement the relationship as beneficial to both parties.  

Connect with people you might learn something from. If you meet someone you admire or if you read something written by a person you think you might learn from, don’t be afraid to contact them. Ask them how they became experts in their field and be prepared to share something in return. Over time, this relationship can mature into mentoring but don’t rush it. Let them see that you are worth investing some of their time and energy in.

Whether you are seeking a mentor to help you run a business or assist in your personal development, there are plenty of resources available to help you understand the nature of mentoring and the benefits it can bring. Here are just some examples of the types of organisations which can get you started on the search for a mentor:

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) offers an online mentoring service to its members. The CMI is the only chartered professional body in the UK dedicated to promoting the highest standards of management and leadership excellence. Whether you are newly qualified, an experienced manager or about to embark on a new challenge or role, CMI mentoring provides a network of professional managers and leaders happy to support those looking to develop their careers, increase performance or deal with the issues associated with a role in management. More details can be found at managers.org.uk

Mentorsme.co.uk is Britain’s first online gateway for small and medium-sized enterprises looking for mentoring services. The free site offers businesses access to a list of quality-assured business mentoring organisations across the UK. Mentorsme.co.uk also aims to raise awareness about the benefits of business mentoring through its library of online resources, which includes articles about mentoring and case studies of successful business mentoring relationships. Find out more here: mentorsme.co.uk

Remember that a successful mentoring relationship is a two-way process. Both parties need to clearly understand what they want to get out of it. After all, you are responsible for your career, which means putting in the hard work and effort to achieve the aspirations you wish for in life. A great mentor can provide just the helping hand you need to succeed; it is worth trying to find one. 

Beverly Landais is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with a senior business background. She works with people and teams to enable them to be at their resourceful best. You can contact her by email at connect@beverlylandais.co.uk.

Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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