Thursday, June 16, 2011

8 Ways to Find a Mentor

For my upcoming book, N-of-8, I have been collecting a wide variety of “top 8” lists you can use for inspiration.  You might find seeds of ideas that can apply to a wide array of challenges.

Here is a list of 8 ideas to connect with a mentor.
  1. Approach a colleague with specific goals. Your workplace or school is a natural way to find a mentor because it’s part of your daily life. When you approach a potential mentor, be clear about your plans. The more clarity you have about your goals for the mentoring relationship, the more successful it (and you) will be.
  2. Look at your family. You may have a natural mentor in your uncle, sister, mom or godfather – and you may not even know it. A mentor is someone who helps you plan your personal or professional goals, guides you toward smart decisions objectively, and helps you strategize for the future. 
  3. Be open to mentors of the opposite sex. Don’t get hung up on finding a same-sex mentor. Surveys have found the gender of the mentor didn’t matter. 
  4. Consider a long distance mentoring relationship. Emailing every few weeks could be just as helpful as meeting in person. Your mentor can live overseas or a different state or province, and still be effective in helping you set professional goals that are realistic and achievable. 
  5. Talk to strangers. If you meet someone interesting at a conference or business lunch, ask for her card. Most people are flattered at this type of request, and realize the value of helping others succeed.   
  6. Consider an “impersonal” mentoring relationship. You don’t necessarily have to know someone to be inspired by them. Simply following their careers or reading their books is an impersonal mentoring relationship that can help you achieve your goals.  
  7. Spread the word. Tell colleagues, friends, and family that you’re hoping to find a mentoring or coaching relationship. The more people you tell, the higher your chances are of succeeding. 
  8. Visit sites like Peer Resources Find a Mentor. This offers a list resources, and tips on finding a mentor.
If you also have lists, quotes, or articles, I invite you to share them in the comment section below.

Innovation that come from the words and thoughts of others often come through a new route in the imagination:  free association. This can lead you to explore links that would not be ordinarily brought to bear. It increases your probability of looking at the challenge in a new way.

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