So, you’ve decided that you want to start a mentoring relationship. But now what? You need to find a mentor. That might be easier said that done, however. Finding a mentor that’s a good fit for you is an important part of the mentoring process, one that is worth the effort and the time.

And it’s about more than just finding someone you like. You need to be intentional about finding a mentor, and you must consider more than personality — consider learning styles and communication styles.

Here are some things to consider as you begin your search:

  • It starts with you — What are you looking to learn? What attributes are you looking for in a mentor? Knowledge, expertise, experience (or all of the above)?
  • Identify your “must haves” — What do you need to have in a mentoring relationship? Make a list!
  • Use your network like crazy — Tell people what you’re looking for. You never know who they might be able to introduce you to! Meet people, get contact information, research names, find out what you can. Your network is a great tool when looking for the ideal mentor.
  • Go back to your list — Once you’ve collected a list of possible mentors, figure out who meets your criteria (and who doesn’t) and begin to select the ones you’d like to reach out to.

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t:
    • Pick someone who will be too easy on you
    • Select someone just because they like you
    • Choose someone because they are the most convenient
    • Opt for someone because you already have a relationship
    • Choose someone you report to directly
  • Do:
    • Seek a good learning fit between what you need and what this person has to share
    • Find out if this person has sufficient time to mentor you
    • Ask yourself if this person will challenge and encourage you to constantly raise the bar for yourself
    • Consider if this person appears to be a good listener, has a sincere desire and willingness to mentor, and the knowledge and expertise you need.

Now the fun part: Meet them! Make sure to set up time to get to know your potential mentors, and see if they fit your mentoring criteria. Once you meet them you’ll quickly be able to tell if they are the right one for you.

(Photo via Flickr CC: Mateus Lunardi Dutra)